Which is the one move Dallas “should make before the 2020 seasons begins,” argues columnist Kristopher Knox, who argues that Wake would represent a low-budget replacement for last season’s team sack leader, Robert Quinn.
Replacing Quinn won’t be easy, and the Cowboys are in a bit of a bind when it comes to chasing free agents. While they do have roughly $10.5 million in cap space, they would presumably like to work out a long-term deal with quarterback Dak Prescott before the July 15 deadline.
Therefore, Dallas should be looking exclusively at budget options, which is where veteran Cameron Wake comes in. Although Wake produced only 2.5 sacks for the Tennessee Titans last season, he had a double-digit-sack campaign as recently as 2017. Wake also has experience with Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Nolan—the two were with the Miami Dolphins in 2010 and 2011, when Nolan served as defensive coordinator.
Perhaps more importantly, Wake shouldn’t cost the Cowboys the bulk of their remaining cap space.
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Refresher on Wake
Wake’s incredible backstory is popular knowledge. Undrafted in 2005 and unable to break into the big leagues, the Penn State product was led to the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League. He dominated the CFL from 2007-08 and eventually earned a shot with Miami. The rest, as they say, is history.
Among the most fearsome quarterback harassers of this generation, Wake blossomed into a five-time Pro Bowler and four-time All-Pro (thrice a second-teamer) who totaled 360 combined tackles, 213 QB hits, 98 sacks, 97 tackles-for-loss, 22 forced fumbles, and 15 pass breakups across a consistently impressive decade-long Dolphins tenure (2009-18).
Wake was allowed to hit free agency in 2019 and landed a three-year, $23 million deal from the Tennessee Titans. He proved one-and-done in the Music City, tallying just 2.5 sacks across nine games and 195 defensive snaps before landing on injured reserve.
Fat Chance He Joins Big D
It was Knox in April who first connected Wake to the Cowboys. He termed the 38-year-old a potential “insurance plan” following the free-agent addition of Aldon Smith. At that point, Smith was still indefinitely suspended by the NFL. Since then, he’s been granted reinstatement, all but rendering Wake obsolete.
Not only did the club bring aboard Smith, but they also added Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe in free agency, and Neville Gallimore — a third-round pick — in the draft. The Cowboys, too, retained Tyrone Crawford as the veteran bookend to $105 million defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, who vowed that his disappointing 2019 sack number (5) “will be up in 2020.”
Oh, and the front office continues to hold out hope that suspended DE Randy Gregory receives the same fate as Smith, eventually rejoining the manger. And lest we forget linebacker Jaylon Smith is expected to take a leap forward under the tutelage of new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.
It might seem surprising, but Dallas isn’t hurting for edge-rushing help. They’d rather devote their money elsewhere. It’s the reason they haven’t sniffed around Wake in reality. Or Everson Griffen. Or Jadeveon Clowney. Notice a pattern?
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL