Cowboys Predicted to Sign Broncos Star in Free Agency: ‘Perfect Replacement’

Dalton Risner

Getty Former Denver Broncos offensive lineman Dalton Risner prepares for a play.

The Dallas Cowboys don’t have many areas to address after their initial free agency moves, but one hole can be plugged by a former Denver Broncos starter.

The offense has been reinforced by running back Tony Pollard returning and a trade for former Houston Texans wide receiver Brandin Cooks. However, they still may need help in protection.

That’s why Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox is predicting the Cowboys to add former Broncos guard Dalton Risner this offseason. Dallas has been in the market at the position, and Risner is an experienced option.

“Dallas has their starting five in Tyron Smith, [Tyler] Smith, Zack Martin, Terence Steele and Tyler Biadasz, but it has battled injuries along the line over the past several years… The Cowboys also lost guard Conor McGovern, who started 15 games last season, in free agency. Risner would be the perfect replacement for McGovern, and the Cowboys still have $16.5 million in cap space with which to work,” Knox writes.

If the Cowboys don’t wish to add a new guard or center through the draft, then signing Risner to a deal would be a solid way to shore up the line.

Risner Locks Down Guard Spot with Broncos

After an impressive career with Kansas State, Risner entered the 2019 NFL draft cycle and quickly moved up the mocks thanks to an extensive amount of reps with the Wildcats and his NFL size (6’5, 312 pounds.)

The Broncos drafted Risner in the second round that year, immediately expecting him to take the starting role at left guard as a rookie. Pro Football Reference shows that Risner did just that, starting all 16 games that season and playing 96% of all possible offensive snaps.

That first year set the tone for Risner’s entire four-year run with the Broncos: consistency. The 27-year-old has started 62 games out of a possible 66 total contests, the kind of healthy addition the Cowboys need on the offensive line.

Risner doesn’t quite have the profile of Zack Martin or Tyron Smith, but he has an impressive resume and could still get better at 27 years old.

Cowboys Have to Cough Up for Risner

While Risner is a great option to replace former Dallas guard Connor McGovern, he will not come cheap. Considering that the Cowboys let McGovern walk and sign a three-year, $22 million deal with the Buffalo Bills, they may not be eager to hand someone a big contract.

Spotrac estimates Risner’s market value to stand at about $9.5 million a year. The website also predicts a four-year deal for the guard, which comes out to about $38 million in total. That’s certainly not cheap, and a significant increase from what it would’ve taken to pay McGovern.

Dallas does have enough cap space to pull off the signing, but it would take a solid chunk of change. A $9.5 million cap hit to the 2023 budget would leave the Cowboys with $7 million heading into the 2023 NFL draft.

That’s enough to pay their draft picks, but leaves little space to maneuver in case injuries or other issues pop up. Risner could be worth his weight, but it will require an initial gamble from Dallas either way.