Cowboys Linked to Potential Signing of 2x Pro Bowl OT

Russell Okung vs. Cowboys

Getty Russell Okung vs. Cowboys

It stands to reason that the Dallas Cowboys will make a few roster additions prior to next month’s regular-season opener at Tampa Bay. One area the team could look to upgrade is offensive tackle, specifically the depth thereof.

And one such free agent they should pursue, according to SB Nation’s Brian Martin, is ex-longtime Seattle Seahawks starter Russell Okung, who’s “waiting for the right situation” before putting pen to paper. Perhaps that situation rears itself as Dallas’ No. 3 OT, directly backing up Tyron Smith and La’el Collins, for the 2021 campaign.

“Although his play has declined over the past few seasons mostly due to injuries, Russell Okung could step in and be an immediate upgrade as the Cowboys swing tackle for the 2021 season,” Martin wrote Monday. “He’s missed 19 games over the past two seasons and was only able to start seven last year with the Carolina Panthers. His health is a pretty big red flag, however, it’s one worth taking a chance on as a backup if he’s willing to play that role.”

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Background on Okung

The sixth overall pick of the 2010 Draft, Okung has 131 NFL starts to his resume, spread across four clubs: the Seahawks (2010-15), Denver Broncos (2016), Los Angeles Chargers (2017-19), and Carolina Panthers (2020). The 6-foot-5, 310-pound blocker is a two-time Pro Bowler and former Super Bowl champion.

As mentioned, Okung, who turns 33 in October, is saddled by a lengthy injury history. He’s registered a full 16-game season just once in more than a decade, and last year was torpedoed by a calf ailment. That — an inability to stay off the trainer’s table — is his biggest red flag precluding a potential signing.

When healthy, Okung proved that he remains an effective lineman, surrendering only 13 pressures on 260 pass-blocking snaps for the Panthers, per NBC Sports. He reportedly drew interest from the Kansas City Chiefs early this offseason but has yet to take a free-agent visit as of this writing.

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OT Move Incoming?

Last week’s preseason-opening Hall of Fame Game loss to the Steelers was an eye-opening experience, in that Dallas realized it cannot count on its current swing tackles, Ty Nsekhe and Terence Steele, both of whom played at a replacement level against Pittsburgh.

Rookie fourth-rounder Josh Ball was supposed to solve this woe, but Ball now is expected to miss “multiple weeks” after sustaining an ankle sprain. This leaves the Cowboys in a precarious spot, forced to evaluate its in-house talent while monitoring the open market for would-be alternatives. The former is likely to take precedent over the latter.

“The realistic scenario is probably that they’ll play this thing out between Nsekhe and Terence Steele over the coming weeks and see who’s better-suited for the job,” reported David Helman of the official team website. “Both of those guys should get plenty of opportunities over the next few weeks.”

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL