Cowboys Urged to Sign Former ‘Game-Changing’ Pro Bowler

Sheldon Richardson

Getty The Dallas Cowboys could be the perfect landing spot for Sheldon Richardson.

The Dallas Cowboys could be in the market for a former “game-changing” Pro Bowler.

As the Cowboys look to continue their solid start (4-2) to the season, one area that’s worth addressing is their run defense. According to Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine, Dallas could use reinforcements along the defensive line.

The Cowboys’ current rotation of defensive tackles are underwhelming, with Osa Odighizuwa topping out, ranking 46th among all interior defenders, according to Pro Football Focus. Ballentine argues that adding free agent Sheldon Richardson would provide a boost for Dallas.

“Sheldon Richardson is a great candidate,” says Ballentine. “The 6’3″, 290-pounder has the ability to play anywhere from 1-technique to 5 and even offers a little bit of pass-rush help. He has seven sacks over his last two seasons with the Minnesota Vikings and Cleveland Browns. Richardson is only 31 and is coming off a productive season as a rotational player for the Vikings. There’s no reason he can’t provide a similar service for Dallas.”

Richardson Could Step in as Cowboys’ Best Defensive Tackle

The 31-year-old Richardson has been a productive and durable defensive tackle over the course of his career. The former Pro Bowler appeared in all 17 games with 7 starts last season for the Minnesota Vikings. Over the course of his nine-season career, Richardson has missed a collective total of just eight games, with just one of those coming in the past four seasons.

The veteran defensive tackle has become a journeyman-type of player, having played for four different teams over the course of his career (including two stints with the Vikings).

According to PFF, Richardson posted a solid a 62.1 defensive grade last season. However, he was substantially better just two years ago as a member of the Cleveland Browns when he posted a 71.1 defensive grade, ranking 39th among all players at his position (with at least 100 snaps).

Cowboys Need Upgrade at Defensive Tackle in Tough NFC East

The Richardson of two years ago is substantially better than anything the Cowboys have going on for them at the moment. As mentioned earlier, Odighizuwa is Dallas’ best-ranked interior lineman with a 62.3 defensive grade.

As Bleacher Report’s Alex Kay noted in his column on October 8, Richardson is one of the best remaining free agents available. Furthermore, he’s a “game-changing” former Pro Bowler.

“While Richardson isn’t the same game-changing defensive tackle he was early in his career, he’s able to use his 6’3″, 290-pound frame and athleticism to both shut down the run and get into the backfield to disrupt,” says Richardson.

The Cowboys rank 19th in rushing yards allowed and 17th in rush yards per attempt allowed. According to PFF, Dallas run defense grade paints an even more abysmal picture, as they rank 27th in the league (49.6).

Signing Richardson — who earned $3.6 million last season with the Vikings — could go a long way towards improving a defensive line that is a clear weakness on a playoff contender. Considering the Cowboys will have to contest with the run-heavy Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants moving forward, signing some help on the interior is needed.

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