The move with McKinley comes just a few days after the team signed free agent defensive end Ben Banogu. McKinley had signed with the Cowboys practice squad last November but did not appear in a game. Dallas re-signed him in March.
The Cowboys had hopes that McKinley, 27, could get his career back on track in Dallas under defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who drafted him with the Atlanta Falcons. McKinley’s career started off strong with the Falcons, notching 13 sacks in his first two seasons.
However, he’s struggled in recent seasons, rarely getting on the field and dealing with a ruptured Achilles he suffered in 2021 while a member of the Cleveland Browns. Since 2019, McKinley has appeared in just 19 games. He most recently suited up for the Los Angeles Rams, registering one tackle in four games.
The Cowboys brought in Banogu to add some extra depth, but he doesn’t come with a stacked resume. The former second-round pick had just 2.5 sacks with the Indianapolis Colts, where he played his first four seasons. Banogu played on just 11% of Indianapolis’ defensive snaps last season but saw a significant chunk of time on special teams.
Cowboys Pass Rush Headlined by Impact Driver Micah Parsons
The Cowboys feel good about their pass-rush unit heading into next season and rightly so. Micah Parsons is the headliner after a 13.5-sack season, although he said he’s not as focused on his numbers for next season. He said his primary concern was making an impact.
“I’m kinda off the sack wave,” Parsons told reporters on June 1. “I’m onto the impact wave. You see Aaron Donald. He can have 12 sacks, but the impact he makes is so dominant. You can tell. I really just want to be dominant. And then you see guys who have 16-17 sacks, but they’re not considered a guy. I want to be a guy, not one of the guys. You feel me? … I’m not chasing for something. I’m trying to achieve and be greater than someone who is chasing.”
Parsons will have some help. Defensive ends Dorance Armstrong and DeMarcus Lawrence combined for 14.5 sacks last season, and the Cowboys unit as a whole is expected to be even stronger than a year ago thanks to some new additions like rookie Mazi Smith and cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
Johnathan Hankins: Cowboys Defensive Line Is ‘Nasty’
The Cowboys are especially excited about Smith, whom they selected with the No. 26 overall pick in this year’s draft. Smith was primarily a run stuffer at Michigan but the Cowboys are eager to see what he can do as a pass rusher.
“You got to give him attention,” Parsons said of Smith. “He’s going to push guys back. He’s powerful. He’s strong. He’s going to get under people’s pads, and he’s great in the run and we’re going to develop him in the pass.”
The Cowboys also were able to bring back veteran Johnathan Hankins this offseason and he’ll play a key role in the rotation alongside Smith and Osa Odighizuwa. Hankins — who is entering his 11th season in the NFL — didn’t hold back while discussing the talent Dallas has on the defensive line.
“That D-line room is nasty,” Hanks said. “Every time I talk about it, I’m just so excited and not just to talk about it, but to be a part of it. We’re working hard, getting each other better and we’re some bad (MFers). That’s just the way we do things, and that’s what our motto is.”
The Cowboys wrapped up mandatory minicamp on June 8 and will get a closer look at things when they open up training camp in late July.