Cowboys Sign Two Rookies, Including QB, to Multi-Year Deals: Report

Getty Ben Dinucci

Focused shifted away from Dak Prescott, the Dallas Cowboys are working to get their 2020 draft class under contract on the eve of training camp.

Per Rob Phillips of the team’s official website, the Cowboys on Monday agreed to terms with fifth-round defensive end Bradlee Anae and seventh-round quarterback Ben DiNucci.

All NFL rookies receive fully-guaranteed four-year deals (first-round picks get a fifth-year club option) and are subject to the league’s slotted pay system. Spotrac.com estimates Anae, the No. 179 overall choice, will earn $3.53 million and take home $237,772 in the form of a signing bonus. He’s projected to count $669,443 against Dallas’ salary cap for this season.

DiNucci, selected 231st overall, will make $3.39 million over the life of his pact, according to Spotrac. His signing bonus and cap charges are $95,148 and $633,787, respectively.

The Cowboys took seven players in this year’s draft. Still unsigned are first-round wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, second-round cornerback Trevon Diggs, third-round defensive lineman Neville Gallimore, and fourth-round defensive back Reggie Robinson and center Tyler Biadasz.

Lamb on Monday tweeted a photo of himself in a suit, legs kicked up in an office, poring over papers. This led to speculation that he was about to ink his pact, but the Fort Worth Star-Telegram later reported Lamb is shooting a commercial.

Cowboys rookies are scheduled to report to The Star in Frisco on Tuesday to begin camp. Veteran players will arrive Thursday. The team, led by new head coach Mike McCarthy, then, after the appropriate tests and measures are taken, will conduct its first on-field practices in an offseason severely altered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Anae Joins Crowded DL Room

Dallas responded, in part, to its free-agent defection of 2019 sack leader Robert Quinn by nabbing Anae, who finished his collegiate career as Utah’s all-time sack leader, totaling 30 sacks across 38 starts. Although he lacks three-down traits, the consensus first-team All-American is an adept pass-rusher who should contribute from day one.

But nothing will be handed to Anae. Because the Cowboys also responded to Quinn’s loss by signing former 49ers star edge rusher Aldon Smith and veteran defensive linemen Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe. This, on top of retaining DE Tyrone Crawford and using a 2019 second-rounder on Trysten Hill, who’s coming off a redshirt rookie campaign. And let’s not forget Gallimore, and Joe Jackson, and Dorance Armstrong and … well, point made.

Anae must shine in camp and the preseason — if there is one — to avoid being buried on the depth chart. His best-case short-term scenario might involve a situational role behind $105 million man DeMarcus Lawrence.


DiNicci Draws Lofty In-House Comparisons

For a seventh-round pick facing practice squad mothballing, DiNucci’s future could look worse. His coach sees a potential incarnation of ex-Rams Pro Bowler Marc Bulger, which in itself is a stretch. And his boss likened DiNucci to franchise legend Tony Romo, which is … something else.

“(McCarthy) said he’s a baller. He’s very athletic. Certainly no one is saying he is, but if you remember, Tony Romo was a college free agent,” Cowboys EVP Stephen Jones said in May, per The Athletic. “(Ben) has some of those type of tools, instinctive and seems to make plays.”

Following a brief stint at Pitt, DiNucci took his talents to James Madison University, logging 5,716 passing yards, 46 TDs, and 18 interceptions across 29 games. He saved his best for last, completing 70-percent of his attempts in 2019 for 3,441 yards, 29 scores, and only six picks, earning AFCA First Team All-American honors.

Although accurate and capable of using his legs, DiNucci’s physical limitations cap his upside as a No. 3 QB at the professional level. Such is the reason he nearly went undrafted and probably would have if McCarthy’s brother wasn’t DiNucci’s eighth-grade basketball coach. True story.

Nevertheless, DiNucci is stationed firmly behind franchise-tagged starter Dak Prescott and new backup Andy Dalton. Assuming the Cowboys carry just two signal-callers on the final roster, DiNucci could be waived later this summer and re-signed to the taxi squad.


READ NEXT: Cowboys’ Lawrence Hints at Skipping Training Camp Over COVID-19 Concerns


Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL

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