Cowboys to Sign Massive Defender as Trysten Hill Replacement?

P.J. Hall with Raiders

Getty P.J. Hall with Raiders

With no end in sight for Trysten Hill’s stay on the Physically Unable to Perform list, the Dallas Cowboys on Monday worked out a pair of defensive linemen.

Per NFL insider Aaron Wilson, the Cowboys hosted defensive end P.J. Hall and nose tackle Daylon Mack, as well as linebackers Donald Rutledge and Connor Strachan.

Dallas has not signed any of these street free agents, and it remains unclear if they plan to do so. The team on Tuesday trimmed its preseason roster to 80 players, cutting kicker Liram Hajrullahu after previously moving four players — wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, safeties Malik Hooker and Israel Mukuamu, and DT Carlos Watkins — to the reserve/COVID-19 list.

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Background on Tryouts

Hall (6’0, 305) is arguably the biggest name of the quartet. The Sam Houston State product was the 57th overall pick of the 2018 draft and spent his first two seasons with the Raiders, posting 34 solo tackles, eight tackles for loss, seven quarterback hits, and 1.5 sacks across 30 appearances (18 starts). He played last season in Houston, where he made 18 solo stops, two TFLs, two QB hits, and one sack over 10 games.

Mack is, quite literally, the biggest man of the bunch. A staggering 340 pounds, the Gladewater (Tx.) native was chosen by the Baltimore Ravens in the fifth round of the 2019 draft. A leg injury marred his rookie campaign and facilitated his release just a year later. He’s since bounced around several NFL locales, including Detroit, New York (Giants), Green Bay, Arizona, and Tennessee.

“Mack isn’t going to wow anyone as a pass rusher, but his power at the point of attack and improved hand technique could make him a rookie starter on early downs,” one pre-draft scouting report reads. “He’s the rare run stuffer with the power to re-set the line of scrimmage and the explosiveness to disrupt plays in the backfield as well. Mack may never be an ideal three-down player, which will push his stock to the mid-rounds, but he’s capable enough as a rusher that he will be a valuable mid-round pickup for whatever NFL team sees fit to claim him.”

Rutledge, 24, entered the league with the Indianapolis Colts in 2020 as an undrafted free agent. He landed a reserve/futures contract from the Arizona Cardinals this past January and, after participating in the club’s offseason program, was waived on Aug. 6.

Strachan, 26, was a five-year contributor for Boston College from 2014-18 and racked up 267 total tackles, 8.5 sacks, six fumble recoveries, and two interceptions. He held stints with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2019 and the now-defunct XFL in 2020.

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Hill Not Close to Return?

Speaking of 2019, the No. 58 overall selection of that offseason’s draft doesn’t appear to be trending toward the regular-season opener at Tampa Bay. Hill was sent to the PUP list on July 22 — he will have missed the entirety of training camp and preseason recovering from an ACL injury — and, as of Aug. 18, was “still on cords.”

“I’d bet he starts the year on PUP based on what we’re seeing at the moment,” ESPN’s Todd Archer predicted of Hill on Aug. 7.

If kept on the injured list entering Week 1, Hill would have to sit out the Cowboys’ first six games before being eligible to return, per league rules.

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL

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