Wednesday proved to be a busy day for the Dallas Cowboys.
After inking former Houston Texans punter Bryan Anger, the Cowboys signed ex-Washington tight end Jeremy Sprinkle, the team announced.
Anger received a one-year contract, per Sports Illustrated. Terms of Sprinkle’s (likely one-year) deal were not disclosed at press time.
Anger and Sprinkle are the ninth and tenth out-of-house players to put pen to paper with Dallas since the March 15 opening of NFL free agency. The club previously added safeties Keanu Neal, Jayron Kearse and Damontae Kazee, defensive linemen Brent Urban and Carlos Watkins, defensive end/outside linebacker Tarell Basham, offensive tackle Ty Nsekhe, and long snapper Jake McQuaide.
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A 2017 fifth-round draft pick, Sprinkle has spent his entire professional career in the nation’s capital. He appeared in 59 games and made 33 starts for the Football Team, posting 301 yards and three touchdowns on 34 receptions — a 61.8% catch rate.
His best season came in 2019 when he totaled a personal-best 26 grabs for 341 yards and a TD across all 16 games (13 starts). Sprinkle was reduced to six yards on just one reception in 2020, a limited role player despite again logging 16 appearances.
Sprinkle (6-5, 255) was a four-year contributor at Arkansas where he snared 71 passes for 921 yards and 11 scores. He was ranked as the TE13 in the 2017 draft class by Pro Football Focus, which compared Sprinkle to ex-Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins star Julius Thomas.
Sprinkle, like Thomas, hasn’t displayed the lateral strength to maintain ground when run-blocking. Both provide adequate technique in pass protection and can be a reasonably dangerous red-zone weapon with above-average ability at quarterback. Consider that with QB Brandon Allen leading the offense, throws to Sprinkle generated a 128.8 passer rating in 2014, 122.0 in 2015, but witnessed a drop-off to 99.5 with Austin Allen under center in 2016 — Sprinkle’s “down” year. Bottom line: Sprinkle has added the necessary bulk to play inline at the next level but, to see the field with any regularity, he will need work on his leverage to improve his blocking. He has the hands to be a threat in the passing game and significant special team experience (11 solo tackles in 2014-15 combined) that will allow him the roster time to improve his blocking mechanics.
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Role in Dallas
Sprinkle likely won’t unseat tentative Cowboys starting tight end Blake Jarwin, returning from an ACL injury, nor impressive 2020 fill-in Dalton Schultz. According to Sports Illustrated’s Mike Fisher, the 26-year-old will compete for the deep reserve job formerly occupied by Blake Bell, who defected to Kansas City last month.
His addition also should not preclude the Cowboys from using their tenth overall pick in this month’s draft on Florida TE Kyle Pitts, a surefire top-10 selection whom owner/general manager Jerry Jones is said to be “infatuated” with — and for whom Jones could make a blockbuster move on April 29.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL