FRISCO, Texas – This 2021 free agent class is rounding into shape, as the Cowboys officially inked five of their new signees on Monday.
Veteran addition Keanu Neal is scheduled for a physical when he officially signs his paperwork later this week, and the front office is still pursuing several other targets. But for the time being, these five players officially became Dallas Cowboys on Monday afternoon:
DE/OLB Tarell Basham – Originally drafted No. 80 overall in 2017 by Indianapolis, Basham was waived during his second season and eventually claimed by the New York Jets. He played 42 games during his time in New York, recording 5.5 sacks and 69 tackles. Basham visited the Cowboys during the pre-draft process in 2017. He has experience playing both as a down lineman in a 4-3 scheme, as well as an outside linebacker in a 3-4.
DE/DT Carlos Watkins – Another versatile signing, Watkins was a 3-4 defensive end for the duration of his rookie contract with the Houston Texans, but it's a good guess he can kick inside to play some defensive tackle with the Cowboys. Houston drafted Watkins with the 142nd overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. He has 74 career tackles and four career sacks – two of which he recorded last season as an 11-game starter.
Views of the Dallas Cowboys off-season signings at Ford Center at The Star in Frisco.
OT Ty Nsekhe – Nsekhe's journey through pro football is pretty remarkable. Originally undrafted out of Texas State in 2009, the Arlington native spent four years in the Arena Football League before getting a shot with the Indianapolis Colts. From there, he bounced around the waiver wire, doing short stints with the St. Louis Rams and New Orleans Saints – ultimately winding up in the Canadian Football League with the Montreal Alouettes. His true NFL breakthrough came in Washington, where he signed on and stuck, serving four years as the swing tackle while also making 16 starts due to injuries in suspensions. That led to a two-year stint in Buffalo, where Nsekhe played 25 games and made one start in 2019. Perhaps not the most glamorous resume, but an impressive show of determination from the 35-year-old.
DE/DT Brent Urban – He was originally drafted in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft by Baltimore, but Urban really carved out a role during his most recent stop with the Chicago Bears. His one full season with Chicago was arguably the best of his seven-year career, as he played in all 16 games with eight starts, tallying 36 tackles and 2.5 sacks – both career highs. It's widely expected that Urban will mainly play defensive tackle in Dallas, but he did start 16 games at end for Baltimore in 2018, notching 27 tackles and half a sack.
LS Jake McQuaide – As a specialist, McQuaide is definitely going to play the fewest snaps of any of these free agent signings, but he just might have the largest impact – and he will certainly have the biggest shoes to fill. McQuaide is stepping in for L.P. Ladouceur, who famously handled long snapping duties in Dallas for 253 games. Ladouceur is also famous for never botching a snap – so the standard is set high for McQuaide. Fortunately, his credentials suggest that he's up to the challenge. As a member of the Los Angeles Rams – where he played under Cowboys special teams coordinator John Fassel for eight years – McQuaide was selected to two Pro Bowls.