Cowboys Starter Bolts for NFC West Squad in Free Agency

Carlos Watkins

Getty Carlos Watkins has signed with the Cardinals.

Carlos Watkins will not be returning to the Dallas Cowboys next season, inking a deal with the Arizona Cardinals.

The Cowboys were hoping to bring Watkins back, with the big man starting 18 games over the last two seasons. Watkins’ deal with the Cardinals is for one year, although the exact terms were not available. Arizona announced the signing on Thursday evening.

Watkins played all over the line for the Cowboys, although he recorded just one sack over the last two seasons. While the numbers weren’t always there in the box score, Watkins graded out as a solid run-stopper on PFF and his presence will be missed.

His most memorable play in a Cowboys uniform was a big-man pick-six against the Saints, returning an interception 29 yards for a touchdown. The former fourth-round pick of the Texans will now have a chance to earn a spot in the Cardinals rotation under new head coach Jonathan Gannon.

Cowboys Recently Re-Signed Johnathan Hankins

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The Cowboys made some impactful moves this offseason but still had a need on the interior of their line. While they didn’t get Watkins to stick around, the Cowboys did bring back veteran nose tackle Johnathan Hankins on a one-year deal worth up to $1.5 million — a great bargain for a proven player in Dan Quinn’s defense.

Hankins came over from the Las Vegas Raiders via trade last season to help bolster the Cowboys’ run defense and was able to provide that for Dallas when he was healthy. Hankins played in seven games last season with the Cowboys, including the postseason, notching 15 tackles and one sack.

The Cowboys have some youth at the position in Chauncey Golston and Neville Gallimore to work with. They could also try to add another capable tackle through the draft.

“We’ve got ourselves in real good shape to get us some picks that can play immediately,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “And that’s the goal here. If you get yourself in a position where you can draft some players you can put on the field, and be a position selective a little bit, you’re doing it (right). Now you never want to pass on the guy you ought to be taking, but still be position selective. And that’s, I think, where we are. I feel good that we can take any position there.”

Gilmore Big Addition For Stellar Cowboys Defense

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A key move for the Cowboys on the defensive side of the ball came via trade, landing former Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore in a trade with the Colts. The move for Gilmore cost the Cowboys just a fifth-round pick and bolsters the cornerback spot opposite of Pro Bowler Trevon Diggs.

Gilmore is bullish on the Cowboys’ credentials as contenders after back-to-back 12-win seasons. He brought some unique advice to the table as a former Super Bowl champ.

“Obviously, I’ve been to the big dance before. But I just think at the end of the day it takes a team coming together, all playing as one,” Gilmore said. “Sometimes it may not look pretty, but us sticking together and having each other’s back and playing for each other, that’s what it comes down to.”

The Cowboys have led the NFL in takeaways the last two seasons and the addition of Gilmore should only help their cause.

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