The Dallas Cowboys are in strong pursuit of one of the top remaining free agents on the market.
According to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network, the Cowboys are making a “strong push” for linebacker Za’Darius Smith. The 29-year-old recently backed out of an agreed-upon deal with the Baltimore Ravens during the legal tampering period.
“That decision looks to benefit the Cowboys as they make a strong push for the veteran pass rusher, who’s been in the NFL since 2015,” says Wilson.
According to Wilson, the Cowboys are targeting Smith as a potential replacement for Randy Gregory, who backed out of his own deal with Dallas to sign with the Denver Broncos. Wilson also mentions that the Kansas City Chiefs are interested in Smith’s services.
“The Dallas Cowboys thought they had a deal with veteran pass rusher Randy Gregory only for the deal to unravel over contract language as he signed a five-year, $70 million free agency contract with the Denver Broncos,” says Wilson. “Now, they have their eyes set on Za’Darius Smith as they push for him as a potential replacement for Gregory, per league sources, with the Kansas City Chiefs also interested in the former Green Bay Packers standout.”
Smith’s Recent Play is Impressive
Smith had agreed to a four-year deal worth $35 million — $50 million with incentives — with the Ravens. However, after fellow pass-rushing specialists such as Von Miller (six years, $120 million) and Chandler Jones (three years, $51 million) agreed to bigger contracts, Smith backed out of his deal with the Ravens.
Smith had spent the past three seasons with the Green Bay Packers after beginning his career with the Ravens in 2015. The veteran linebacker was named to two consecutive Pro Bowls during the 2019 season and garnered an All-Pro selection in 2020. Smith posted 13.5 sacks in 2019 and 12.5 sacks in 2020.
However, Smith was limited to just one game due to a back injury during the 2021 season before he was released by the Packers this offseason.
According to Spotrac, the Cowboys have more than $25 million in available cap space. As Spotrac notes, Smith’s market value is $16.7 million per season, which would rank seventh among all outside linebackers in yearly salary.
The Cowboys are currently in search for pass-rushing specialists following the Gregory fiasco.
Dallas recently signed free agent Dante Fowler to a one-year, $5 million deal to replace Gregory. The Cowboys also made sure to restructure DeMarcus Lawrence’s contract along with re-signing defensive Dorance Armstrong this offseason.
If the Cowboys want to make a big splash in replacing Gregory, Smith is the option to pursue.
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Report: Cowboys Interested in Pierre-Paul
The Cowboys are clearly interested in more pass rushers to offset the loss of Gregory.
As ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported on Sunday, March 20, Dallas is also interested in free agent Jason Pierre-Paul. Pierre-Paul has spent the four seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“Cowboys could go with multiple veteran pass-rushers in free agency to help offset loss of Randy Gregory,” said Fowler. “They’ve got Dante Fowler in the fold, and there’s interest in Jason Pierre-Paul, as well.”
At the age of 33, Pierre-Paul would be a much cheaper option that Smith. The three-time Pro Bowler recently had his last Pro Bowl campaign in 2020, but he posted just 2.5 sacks during the 2021 season.
We’ll see who the Cowboys end up signing, but it’s clear Dallas is still looking for more edge rushers in free agency.