OXNARD, Calif. – Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones confirmed Saturday afternoon that the club is visiting with free agent defensive end Takkarist McKinley here in Oxnard.
"Obviously we have him here for a reason," Jones said, adding that no deal has been reached to this point. "We're very interested in him."
McKinley began his career with the Falcons as the 26th overall pick in the 2017 Draft, one pick before the Cowboys -- prioritizing the pass rush that year -- selected Taco Charlton at No. 27.
McKinley played for Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn in Atlanta for the first three and a half seasons of his NFL career. He played half the 2020 season for the Raiders and spent last year with the Browns. In 60 career games, he has 93 total tackles and 20 sacks.
"We had him in for the (official) 30 (pre-draft visit), loved him coming out," Jones said. "(Former Cowboys defensive coordinator) Rod (Marinelli) was a huge fan, and we were too, of the way he plays the game -- play temperament, play style. And then of course the obvious: Dan coached him. We've got a lot of inside knowledge there, too. You can't have enough guys who can rush the passer."
McKinley is working his way back from a torn Achilles tendon suffered last December against the Raiders. Cowboys safety Malik Hooker was in a similar situation when he signed with Dallas around this time last year, and once healthy, became a productive player in 2021.
"Hooker was just like this," Jones said. "He wasn't quite ready, but we really managed him well and before it was over he was a big part of our defense and obviously a big part of it today. You've just got to know what you're getting into when you're doing that, but obviously our knowledge of him is helpful to us."
Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones says McKinley "has got a chance to play this year" coming off the Achilles injury.
"I think he's ahead of where Malik was (last year)," Jones said, referring to Hooker, who returned to practice in mid-August and played in 15 games. "...We'll see where we go from here."