Cowboys Rumors: Latest Buzz, Players to Watch at Mandatory Minicamp
The Dallas Cowboys continue to move along with their offseason program. The next round of organized team activities (OTAs) is scheduled for June 5 and 6, and mandatory minicamp (June 14-16) is right around the corner.
While jobs won't be won or lost in the next few weeks, and position battles won't truly heat up until training camp, the next phase will still be important. And fans will be watching intently as Dallas continues to go about replacing key offseason departures in Amari Cooper, Cedrick Wilson Jr., Randy Gregory, La'el Collins and Connor Williams.
What's the latest buzz on the Cowboys' 2022 offseason? Which players will be under the microscope during OTAs and minicamp? Let's dive into some of the latest rumors and reports.
Dallas Unlikely to Add Veteran Receiver, Could Consider a Linebacker
While much of the focus over the next few weeks will be on the practice field, fans may also be watching the transaction wire. Now that June 1 has come and gone, free-agent additions won't count against the compensatory pick formula.
However, it doesn't appear that Dallas will be diving back into the free-agent pool to help replace Cooper and Wilson in the lineup. instead, according to Rob Phillips of the team's official website, they're content with free-agent addition James Washington and rookie Jalen Tolbert.
"They're excited about Jalen Tolbert and they think James Washington could reach another level with more opportunities than he had in Pittsburgh," Phillips wrote. "Maybe the Cowboys show some patience there."
However, Phillips does believe that linebacker could be a "position to watch" as Dallas looks to improve a run defense that ranked 23rd in yards per attempt allowed last season.
Former Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr could be a specific linebacker for fans to keep an eye on. In a since-deleted tweet, Clarence Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported last month that the Cowboys had interest in Barr.
"Free agent linebacker Anthony Barr is a free agent option for the Cowboys, if the price right, per source," Hill tweeted (h/t Jonathan Adams of Heavy.com).
While Barr may not be a firm target of the Cowboys, it wouldn't be a shock to see them bring in a veteran linebacker before training camp. As for receiver, Dallas appears poised to first see what it has in its new-look lineup.
Von Miller Was Interested in Joining Dallas This Offseason
The Cowboys lost a quality edge-rusher when Gregory opted to join the Denver Broncos in free agency. However, it seems that Dallas could have quickly replaced him with former Broncos star and two-time Super Bowl champion Von Miller.
Miller, who helped the Los Angeles Rams win the title in February, ultimately signed with the Buffalo Bills. According to former Cowboys star DeMarcus Ware, Miller first checked in on Dallas.
"I remember when Von called me he said, 'Hey is Dallas interested? I'm a free agent.'" Ware said, per Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News (h/t Tyler Greenawalt of Yahoo Sports). "He said, 'Call Jerry [Jones] and them and see what they want to do.’ I said, 'Are you trying to get them to empty the bank account? What you trying to do?' ... He said, 'I'm trying to come back home hopefully I can do that,'"
Miller signed a six-year, $120 million deal with Buffalo, an offer Dallas was unlikely to ever match. With Miller long gone and with the Cowboys still looking to replace Gregory, rookie second-round pick Sam Williams becomes a player to watch during minicamp and training camp.
The former Mississippi linebacker drew positive reviews during rookie camp and seems to be quickly progressing as an edge-defender.
"He has the gifts. He has the physical traits. He had two pass rushes (Friday and) ... he was clean in the backfield," head coach Mike McCarthy said last month, per Mike Fisher of FanNation. "He has that kind of ability. He's in a great place."
Expect Williams' continuing development to be a key storyline throughout the remainder of the offseason.
Tyler Smith Getting First-Team Reps at Left Tackle
With Collins and Williams both departing the line, first-round pick Tyler Smith will be a player to watch during minicamp.
The Tulsa product has the potential to play either guard or tackle for the Cowboys and could therefore be a candidate to replace either Smith or Williams this season. However, with Terence Steele slotted at right tackle, Smith appears most likely to play left guard.
According to The Athletic's Jon Machota, Dallas is also cross-training Smith at left tackle:
"With eight-time Pro Bowler Tyron Smith still on the roster, the rookie is expected to start at left guard in Year 1. Tyler Smith has worked mostly at left guard since being drafted in April, but he was lined up at left tackle when the first-team offense opened team drills Thursday. Tyron Smith was held out of the OTA practice last week that was open to reporters as he was dealing with some lower back tightness."
As Machota noted, Tyler Smith may eventually replace Tyron Smith as Dallas' franchise left tackle. For now, though, it appears that the Cowboys are going to ask the rookie to start at guard while providing valuable depth at tackle—and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him get reps on the right side as well.
Smith's development will be worth watching this month because, as Brandon Thorn of the B/R Scouting Department put it, the rookie is "as raw as sushi."
He still needs some seasoning, and Dallas desperately needs Smith to be ready to start by Week 1.
*Contract information via Spotrac.