PHOENIX – The Cowboys don't expect Damontre Moore to be a walk-in starter at defensive end.
They do think their recent free-agent signing has the talent to compete for a spot in Rod Marinelli's rotation and perhaps develop into a regular contributor.
That's what David Irving has done since the Cowboys signed him off the Kansas City Chiefs' practice squad early in the 2015 season.
"He's a piece that comes in here and competes, no different than David Irving did two years ago," Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said from the NFL Annual Meeting in Phoenix. "And you hope that he's got some of those Irving-type qualities.
"You know, David's still got a long ways to go. He made some big plays down the stretch for us. He's certainly shown that his ceiling is higher than most. And I think Damontre would fit in that category. He's certainly got some upside but he's got a lot of work to do before you can say we're penciling that in."
Moore reached a one-year deal with Dallas the first week of free agency. The Cowboys are his fifth NFL team since the New York Giants drafted him in 2013. He has 10 sacks in 49 career games.
The former Texas A&M standout fell out of favor in New York and was released in 2015 following a locker room altercation with a teammate and other maturity issues, according to reports.
Moore has been trying to find a permanent NFL home since, appearing in seven games with the Miami Dolphins and most recently the Seattle Seahawks. He also went to training camp with the Oakland Raiders last summer.
Irving appears headed for bigger role in Marinelli's defense. The Cowboys issued an exclusive rights tender to the 23-year-old defensive end/tackle after he finished with career-bests in sacks (four) and quarterback pressures (26), up from 14 in 2015.[embeddedad0]
His most impressive game was the Cowboys' Week 6 win at Green Bay, when he forced three fumbles in only 19 defensive snaps.
Finding a 'war daddy' pass rusher, as team owner/general manager Jerry Jones has described, is no easy task. The league's elite rushers are either franchised or signed to long-term deals by their own teams.
The Cowboys have had success signing defensive ends to cap-efficient contracts in recent years: George Selvie in 2013, Jeremy Mincey in 2014, Irving in 2015, Benson Mayowa in 2016.
Perhaps Moore will be next.
"And then a guy like Damontre, sometimes it takes players some time before they mature," Jones said. "I think he'd be the first to tell you that he's grown up a lot since he came in the league and that's natural for young players. I mean, they come in here really young people and they mature over time. He's certainly got skills."