Former Cowboys WR Visits Panthers in Free Agency

Ryan Switzer

Getty Ryan Switzer runs for a punt return touchdown while playing for the Dallas Cowboys.

A former fourth-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys is currently with the Carolina Panthers as he attempts an NFL comeback this free agency window.

Dallas is heading into the 2022 season with a major shakeup at their wide receiver group, as prominent names like Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson Jr. were either traded or left in free agency. The Cowboys have made additions too, signing ex-Pittsburgh Steelers WR James Washington and drafting South Alabama talent Jalen Tolbert in the third round of the 2022 NFL draft.

So as the Cowboys attempt to finalize what their receiver group will look like in 2022, former Dallas receiver Ryan Switzer is attempting to get back on the field with the Panthers. Carolina announced their rookie minicamp roster earlier this week, and Switzer is one of the players trying out.

Dallas selected the now 27-year-old receiver in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL draft, but he has not played in a regular-season game since 2019. Now, Switzer has a chance to work his way on the Panthers roster.

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Switzer’s Time in NFL

After three solid years at North Carolina, Switzer exploded onto the national scene in 2016. In his senior year with the Tar Heels, the 5’8″ receiver brought down 96 receptions for 1112 yards and six touchdowns according to Sports Reference.

Switzer fit the mold of a receiver that Dallas found success with in Cole Beasley, and the team elected to double-up by drafting the UNC standout in 2017. However, Switzer didn’t stand out enough to earn many offensive reps, but was a weapon on punt returns with an average 8.8 yards per return and a touchdown, per PFR.

Despite promise as a returner, the addition of Tavon Austin in free agency and the selections of Michael Gallup and Wilson in the 2018 NFL draft prefaced Switzer being traded that same April. The Cowboys shipped Switzer to the Las Vegas Raiders, who sent Dallas defensive end Jihad Ward in return.

The trading didn’t stop there for Switzer, who was traded the following August to the Steelers. Initially, his arrival went well as he averaged 8.4 yards per punt return and also played a bigger role offensively, catching 36 passes for 253 yards and a touchdown in 2018.

A back injury in November of 2019 cut short Switzer’s third NFL season, which led to him falling on the depth chart with the Steelers in 2020. He was cut that September, and then signed by the Cleveland Browns later that year.

In nearly two seasons with Cleveland, Switzer didn’t play a single regular season snap. He spent all of 2020 on the practice squad, and then hit the injury reserve in August of 2021.


Cowboys Need a Returner

What’s interesting about Switzer finding his next place to play is that Dallas needs a kick returner. At least, that’s what Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said during the team’s minicamp this weekend.

On May 13, Dallas Morning News reporter Michael Gehlken posted that McCarthy and Dallas aren’t sure who the team’s kick returner in 2022 will be, and that the Cowboys may be in the market for a returner.

“CeeDee Lamb ascended to starting flanker. Cedrick Wilson is on Dolphins,” Gehlken wrote. “So, who will be Cowboys’ punt returner in 2022? Mike McCarthy: ‘As Stephen [Jones] says all the time, and it’s so true, player acquisition never stops. That’s definitely something we’ve got to get answered.'”

Dallas likely has other options they’d prefer over Swisher, but it’s worth noting that the former Cowboys return man is available.

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