Cowboys Starter Bolts for $23 Million Deal With AFC Contender: Report

Mike McCarthy

Getty Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy.

The Dallas Cowboys are losing one of their key starters at the beginning of free agency.

Offensive guard Connor McGovern will sign a three-year, $23 million deal with the Buffalo Bills, according to Alaina Getzenberg of ESPN.

“The Buffalo Bills are beginning to fill some of the holes on the roster in free agency, agreeing to terms with former Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Connor McGovern on a three-year, $23 million deal on Monday, a source confirmed to ESPN,” Getzenberg wrote on March 13.

How Connor McGovern Won Cowboys Starting Job

The 25-year-old McGovern was initially selected in the third round of the 2019 draft by the Cowboys. Over the past three seasons, McGovern has started 29 of his 45 appearances, serving as a part-time starter during the 2020 and 2021 seasons. Following the departure of starting left guard Connor Williams to the Miami Dolphins last offseason, McGovern eventually became a full-time starter, starting all 15 of his appearances in 2022.

However, he didn’t initially win the job. Rookie Tyler Smith beat out McGovern for the starting left guard job before being bumped to the starting left tackle job due to a severe training camp injury suffered by Tyron Smith. McGovern then took over the job at left guard for the rest of the season.

The 6-foot-5, 308-pound McGovern delivered mixed results during his first full season as a starter, Getzenberg wrote.

“McGovern has not been great against the run with a 69.3% run block win rate in 2022,” Getzenberg wrote. “He did, however, have a 93.1% pass block win rate, and protecting quarterback Josh Allen is crucial for the Bills. Allen had his second-most career sacks in 2022 (33). McGovern also provides depth at center and has played fullback.”

According to Pro Football Focus, McGovern posted a below-average offensive grade of 52.2. His specific grades reflect his block win rates, as he posted a superb 74.8 pass-blocking grade, but an underwhelming 42.7 run-blocking grade. McGovern’s pass-blocking grade ranked 17th among all guards (with at least 100 snaps). Meanwhile, his run-blocking grade ranked 129th of 141 players who lined up at offensive guard last season.

Why the Cowboys Aren’t Re-Signing McGovern

McGovern likely wasn’t a higher priority for the Cowboys due to their possible plan of starting both Smith’s on the left side of the offensive line, according to David Moore of The Dallas Morning News.

“There’s an assumption that McGovern didn’t rank higher on the Cowboys list of priorities because it intends to bump Tyler Smith to left guard next season to pair with Tyron Smith to form a dominant left side of the line,” Moore wrote. “It could unfold that way.”

If Dallas sticks with Tyler at left tackle, Matt Farniok is a possible candidate at left guard.

“But for now, the Cowboys intend to go into next season with Tyler Smith as the starting left tackle, a person familiar with the club’s thinking said,” Moore wrote. “That would leave a spot open at left guard. Matt Farniok, a seventh-round pick in the 2021 draft, is one of the internal candidates.”

The 25-year-old Farniok has seen a decent amount of playing time over the course of his first two seasons, appearing in a total of 19 games — with two starts — before he was placed on injured reserve midway through last season.


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