Annnnd we’re off.
NFL free agency is (unofficially) underway following Monday’s opening of the legal tampering window, and deals are beginning to be consummated around the league.
Among them, a two-year, $10 million pact ($8 million guaranteed) for now-former Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Cam Erving, who’s defecting to the Carolina Panthers, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
The contract agreement drew subtle condemnation from Cowboys media.
“This is a wow. Cowboys weren’t going to pay that much,” tweeted ESPN’s Todd Archer.
“Cowboys have Tyron Smith & La’el Collins coming back from injury. Club believes it began to develop young depth at the position last season. Erving wasn’t expected to return,” tweeted the Dallas Morning News’ David Moore.
“Cowboys should be thrilled about this. Erving didn’t practice much of camp. His season began with MCL sprain to one knee. After five starts, ended with MCL sprain to other. Any return wouldn’t have involved a contract near this value. Now could help them get a compensatory pick,” tweeted the Dallas Morning News’ Michael Gehlken.
Erving is expected to compete for Carolina’s starting left tackle vacancy, according to beat reporter Joe Person of The Athletic, who also noted the seven-year veteran’s ability to play guard.
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Erving’s Stint in Dallas
Erving proved to be one-and-done with the Cowboys after signing a prove-it deal last May. He had spent the previous three years in Kansas City, starting 25 games over that span, primarily at left guard. The versatile blocker made eight starts in 2019 — and saw 600 snaps at left tackle — as the Chiefs captured the Super Bowl LIV title.
A 2015 first-round pick (No. 19 overall) of the Cleveland Browns, Erving was brought aboard by Dallas to function as a swing lineman behind stud tackles Tyron Smith and La’el Collins. That plan fell apart when Smith and Collins both suffered season-ending injuries, forcing the 28-year-old into five forgettable starts for the 6-10 club.
“Cowboys not losing any sleep about losing Cam Erving to Carolina. Brandon Knight more than capable of filling in at swing tackle. Cowboys could get extra comp pick next year for Erving,” tweeted the Dallas Morning News’ Calvin Watkins.
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Dalton to Return as QB2?
According to former ESPN insider Josina Anderson, the Cowboys are interested in re-signing unrestricted free-agent quarterback Andy Dalton. Here’s the catch, because of course: Money has to “work out,” a source told Anderson.
“Think he’s entertaining other offers to start,” the source added.
In December, the team cracked the door for Dalton’s return, with Cowboys VP Stephen Jones stating “certainly we’d love” if he remained beyond the 2020 campaign. “Have to address all that at end of year in terms of his goals, what he wants to do, what his opportunities are,” Jones said, via USA Today.
Dalton — who appeared in 11 games following Dak Prescott‘s ankle injury, throwing for 2,169 yards, 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions — is among the top options in a “name” market that includes Alex Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Mitchell Trubisky.
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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL