FRISCO, Texas – The Cowboys added more depth along their offensive line on Friday, as they signed offensive tackle Byron Bell to a one-year deal.
Bell gives the Cowboys another veteran option in the offensive line room, as he comes to Dallas with 72 career starts over the past five seasons. Originally undrafted out of New Mexico in 2011, Bell signed with Carolina and quickly established himself as a starter at right tackle.
He appeared in 62 total games for the Panthers, with 56 of those coming as starts. In his final season in Carolina he shifted to left tackle and started 15 games.
Bell's performance in Carolina earned him a contract with Tennessee, where he started all 16 games for the Titans all along the offensive line. He dislocated his ankle during OTAs last year and was ruled out for the entire 2016 season.
As has been the trend throughout this free agency window, the decision to sign Bell coincides perfectly with the strategy Cowboys officials have favored these past few years. With speculation that Doug Free might be headed for retirement, the front office was faced with few options at the tackle spot opposite Tyron Smith.
The Cowboys drafted Green with the 92nd overall pick back in 2015 with the idea that he could one day start at right tackle. Injuries have hampered his career to this point, though. An offseason hip surgery forced him to miss all of his rookie season, and a foot injury ended his season after just one month last fall.
In total, Green has appeared in just four of 33 possible games, with just two starts.
Bell represents a veteran presence who can provide valuable depth at the tackle spot – or possibly win a starting job once training camp begins. The Cowboys also have a wildcard in La'el Collins. The third-year guard played tackle extensively in college – though team officials have repeatedly expressed their desire to keep him at guard.
Regardless, the new signing gives the Cowboys a solid trio at tackle in the event that Free doesn't return for the 2017 campaign.