Cowboys Make Final Call on Signing Former First-Round Pass-Rusher

Takkarist McKinley

Getty images Free agent pass-rusher Takkarist McKinley.

The Dallas Cowboys hosted former Atlanta Falcons first-round pick Takkarist McKinley for a visit on Saturday, but a signing is not imminent.

The Cowboys wanted to see how McKinley is progressing following a torn Achilles he suffered last season with the Cleveland Browns. While the Cowboys gauged his progress in his return from the injury, they aren’t set on signing him just yet following the visit, per Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News.

“Following a positive visit, Cowboys won’t be signing ex-Falcons edge defender Takk McKinley at this time, two people familiar with situation said. Nothing to be read into — this was original plan. McKinley intended to take multiple visits, and he will. The Cardinals are up next,” Gehlken tweeted on July 30.

McKinley inked a one-year deal with the Browns last offseason, taking a gamble on the former first-round pick after a turbulent season. He had collected 13 of his 17.5 career sacks in his first two years in the league and showed the talent that made him a first-round pick. However, he was cut by Atlanta after a social media tirade and he wasn’t able to get on the field after that. He signed with the Bengals, 49ers and Raiders, but was not deemed healthy enough to suit up.

McKinley turned into a solid rotational piece for the Browns behind Jadeveon Clowney and Myles Garrett but ruptured his Achilles tendon in a Week 15 game against the Las Vegas Raiders. Prior to the injury, he had recorded 18 total tackles, three tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble.


Jerry Jones Clear About Interest in McKinkley

While a signing does not appear imminent, Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones was very open about the team’s interest in McKinley.

“I had a good visit with him [on Saturday]. He’s certainly got a chance to play this year. We’ve evaluated that as far as his Achilles, and we’ll see where we go from here,” Jones said, per the Cowboys official site.

The link between the Cowboys and McKinley is defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who was the head coach in Atlanta while McKinley was there.

“We had him in for the (official) 30 (pre-draft visit), loved him coming out,” Jones said. “(Former Cowboys defensive coordinator) Rod (Marinelli) was a huge fan, and we were too, of the way he plays the game — play temperament, play style. And then of course the obvious: Dan coached him. We’ve got a lot of inside knowledge there, too. You can’t have enough guys who can rush the passer.”

The Cowboys said McKinley is a little ahead of where safety Malik Hooker was last year when they signed him off a torn Achillies. Hooker played in 15 games, collecting 44 tackles and an interception.


Cowboys Could Use Another Reliable DE Option

The Cowboys have DeMarcus Lawrence to hold down one side of the line but could still use some added depth on the opposite side. Dallas brought in Dante Fowler — another Quinn disciple — this offseason and they’re hoping he can get his career back on track. Fowler had 11.5 sacks with the Rams in 2019 but has just 7.5 over the last two seasons.

Rookie second round pick Sam Williams will also be in the mix, as well as Tarrell Basham.

The Cowboys lost Randy Gregory this offseason when he signed with the Broncos and will have to replace his production, which included six sacks in 12 games and 30 quarterback pressures.

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