FRISCO, Texas – Randy Gregory's free-agency switch from Dallas to Denver leaves a question mark at defensive end.
Dorance Armstrong is back to compete.
"That's an open spot," he said Wednesday. "You've got to come in and work for it."
The Cowboys re-signed Armstrong to a new two-year deal worth a reported $13 million last week after he finished out his rookie contract. He said he received interest from "a few places" when free agency began but decided to return to Dallas and continue playing in defensive coordinator Dan Quinn's scheme.
"It felt being drafted again," Armstrong said about the free agent process. "You just have to sit back and wait until your name is called. That's kind of how it was."
The 2018 fourth-round draft pick has steadily improved as a rotational pass rusher. In 2021, he set career highs in tackles (37), sacks (5.0) and quarterback pressures (22) working at defensive end and moving inside to defensive tackle in certain situations.
Armstrong doesn't necessarily see his role changing significantly -- "I'll be doing the same thing, playing inside, playing special teams," he said -- but the Cowboys believe he can take another step forward without Gregory, who signed a five-year deal with the Broncos after posting 6.0 sacks in 12 games last season.
It helps that two-time Pro Bowler DeMarcus Lawrence is back at left end with a new three-year, $30 million deal after the offseason began with questions about his future with the team due to a tight salary cap.
On the right side, it looks like the Cowboys will try to replace Gregory's production with multiple players. They signed veteran Dante Fowler Jr. to a one-year deal worth a reported $5 million last week and could add more edge rush help in the next stage of free agency or April's NFL Draft, where they have nine total picks.
Armstrong, who played 44% of the defensive snaps last season, is part of the plan.
He plans to keep improving.
"My entire game," he said. "I'm not a perfect player. I'm not a face-of-a-franchise player. Obviously I have a lot of work to do. That's just going to happen over time."