With veteran defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford retiring from the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys can sign the perfect replacement in free agency.
Besides signing quarterback Dak Prescott to a long-term contract extension, fixing the defense has been the top offseason priority for the Dallas Cowboys. The defensive side of the ball was abysmal under coordinator Mike Nolan, leading to him being fired after one season and being effectively replaced by former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn.
On Thursday, the defense did take a bit of a hit as veteran defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford announced his retirement from the NFL after nine seasons. Now, the Cowboys have to find a suitable replacement for him in rather weak defensive tackle market and draft class.
The belief entering the 2021 league year was that the defensive tackle market was not going to be great. Dalvin Tomlinson of the New York Giants was leaps and bounds the best tackle available, but the Minnesota Vikings quickly signed him to a lucrative two-year deal as the legal tampering period kicked off.
Perhaps Dallas’ best option is signing former Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos interior defensive lineman Jurrell Casey.
Cowboys: With Tyrone Crawford retired, Dallas could effectively replace him with Jurrell Casey
Casey has long been known as being one of the better defensive tackles in the league. He can get to the quarterback and effectively stop the run. Those are two things that the Cowboys desperately need entering the 2021 season. Plus, Crawford can play both tackle and edge, much like Crawford did throughout his career.
Through his 10 years in the NFL, Casey has tallied 507 total tackles, 117 quarterback hits, 85 tackles for loss, 51 sacks and eight forced fumbles. Casey put up consistently good numbers throughout his career, with the lone exception coming in 2020, where his season ended after three games due to a torn biceps.
It is no secret just how putrid Dallas’ run defense was last offseason, with their game against the Baltimore Ravens proving that point. The Cowboys allowed an average of 158.8 rushing yards per game last season, the second-most in the NFL. The only team worse than Dallas was against the run were the Houston Texans (160.3).
The Cowboys could stand to add a player like Casey to add pressure inside the line of scrimmage. That could do wonders for defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, who is among the highest-paid at his position and has tallied a total of 11.5 sacks the past two seasons after signing his massive contract.
Given that Casey is coming off an injury, the Cowboys could capitalize by signing him to a relatively cheap deal. That would be the best option for Dallas to replace Crawford for the upcoming season.