‘Coveted’ Cowboys Rookie Terminates Contract to Join AFC Contender

Ron'Dell Carter

Getty Ron'Dell Carter

The grass was greener for Ron’Dell Carter.

Carter, an undrafted rookie defensive lineman, terminated his contract with the 1-2 Dallas Cowboys and will join the 2-1 Indianapolis Colts‘ active roster, the team announced Tuesday. His agent, Adam Seifer, confirmed the move to beat reporter Michael Gehlken.

Dallas had designated Carter among its practice-squad protections for the first three games. But because the upcoming week’s protections go into effect on Tuesday, the Colts were able to swoop in and steal him away.

Carter played collegiately at James Madison University, where he was teammates with quarterback Ben DiNucci, whom the Cowboys drafted in the seventh round. The 6-foot-3, 269-pound pass-rusher was a three-year contributor for the Dukes, delivering 69 solo tackles, 48 tackles-for-loss, 23.5 sacks, and four pass breakups across 44 games.

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He set career highs as a redshirt senior in 2019 by making 27 TFLs and 12 sacks, sharpening his skills as a quarterback-harasser en route to consensus first-team All-American honors.

The Cowboys so highly “coveted” Carter, to use Gehlken’s word, that his rookie deal included $145,000 in total guarantees — $125,000 in base salary and a $20,000 signing bonus — the highest among their UDFA signings.

With Carter gone and a spot available, Dallas added former Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills starting right tackle Jordan Mills to its taxi squad, the team announced.

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Mills’ Background, Cowboys Fit

A 2013 fifth-round pick of the Bears and something of a journeyman, Mills has started 84 career games, primarily at right tackle, split between the Bears (2013-14), Cowboys (2015), Lions (2015), Bills (2015-18), Dolphins (2019), and Cardinals.

He played collegiately at Lousiana Tech, earning first-team All-WAC honors in 2012. Mills — standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 314 pounds, with 34-inch arms — drew pre-draft comparisons to former Chargers first-round OT DJ Fluker.

Mills probably won’t reside on the taxi squad for long as right tackle is the weakest area on the Cowboys’ annually beastly offensive line, with La’el Collins (hip) parked on injured reserve and unlikely to return anytime soon.

Expect Mills to eventually be promoted to the active roster, serving as depth behind rookie UDFA Terence Steele, who suffered through food poisoning in Week 3. Incumbent Cowboys swing OT Cameron Erving (IR; knee) is out indefinitely.

Speaking of the OL, it appears All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith (neck) is inching closer to his return. Emphasis on “inching.” Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy said Wednesday that Smith will be limited in practice, starting out with individual drills.

“He’s still not all of the way cleared for full contact,” McCarthy cautioned, per Gehlken.

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL