Cowboys Sign NFL’s Third-Best Run Defender to 1-Year Deal

Former Bears DL Brent Urban

Getty Former Bears DL Brent Urban.

Interior: bolstered.

Fortifying the middle of its front-seven, the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday signed former Chicago Bears defensive lineman Brent Urban to a one-year contract. The deal was announced by Urban’s wife, Kate, via Twitter.

And Brent himself confirmed the news.

“Chicago I love you but now it’s time to saddle up and head south,” he tweeted.

“AHHHHHHHHH CANT WAIT to rock out in the Big D,” he tweeted.

The signing comes hours after the Cowboys added ex-Houston Texans defensive tackle Carlos Watkins, and three days after the team tendered incumbent nose man Antwaun Woods, who’s yet to formally ink the $2.133 million offer.

Following a predictably slow start to NFL free agency, which began Monday with the opening of the legal tampering window, Dallas has increased its roster-building activity.

In out-of-house moves, the club brought aboard offensive tackle Ty Nsekhe and long snapper Jake McQuaide, the corresponding transactions after losing OT Cameron Erving and opting to move on from age-40 deep snapper L.P. Ladouceur. They also watched starting cornerback Chidobe Awuzie depart amid the frenzy; Awuzie landed a three-year, $21.75 million deal from the Cincinnati Bengals.

Prioritizing in-house matters first, however, the Cowboys tendered Woods and fellow exclusive-rights free agent wide receiver Cedrick Wilson and released veteran punter Chris Jones. The team also retained three of its own: CB Jourdan Lewis, who landed a three-year, $16.5 million pact; CB C.J. Goodwin, who received a two-year, $3.5 million deal; and WR Noah Brown, who signed a one-year agreement.

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Background on Urban

A 2014 fourth-round pick of the Ravens, Urban spent five seasons in Baltimore, notching 52 combined tackles (33 solo), seven tackles for loss, five pass breakups, and 3.5 sacks across 41 games (19 starts).

In 2019, the Virginia product bounced from the Tennessee Titans to the Bears, for whom he would contribute 36 tackles (17 solo), five quarterback hits, three PBUs, three TFLs, and 2.5 sacks over 25 appearances (eight starts).

Urban, 30 (in May), does not offer much in the way of pass-rushing — he earned a paltry 56.0 grade from Pro Football Focus for 391 defensive snaps in 2020 — but that isn’t the reason Dallas signed him. The Ontario native was given an 83.7 run-defense rating, the third-best mark in the league among all interior DL.

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Role with Cowboys

Put very simple: to bottle up opposing ground attacks. Dallas struggled mightily in this department last year, ranking 31st against the run en route to a franchise-record 473 points allowed.

Urban — a massive 6-foot-7, 300 pounds — should slide in as a direct backup on running downs, spelling Neville Gallimore or Trysten Hill under new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Quinn is expected to employ a 4-3 scheme, ditching the 3-4 setup used by predecessor Mike Nolan.

The Cowboys are likely to continue stocking the defensive line cupboard through next month’s NFL draft for which they hold 10 selections, including four within the top-100.

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL