FRISCO, Texas – After an official visit last week, the Cowboys have officially signed free agent offensive tackle Jason Peters to the practice squad, giving Dallas depth and experience at a position of need heading into the regular season.
Defensive end Mika Tafua has been released to make room for Peters on the practice squad, the Cowboys announced.
Peters made seven of his nine career Pro Bowls with division rival Philadelphia from 2009-2020 and started 15 games for Chicago last year. Now he'll give the Cowboys options without starting left tackle Tyron Smith, who's expected to miss a large chunk of the regular season following hamstring surgery.
"This is about adding depth and bringing another excellent player into your program," head coach Mike McCarthy said.
Signing Peters, 40, on the Cowboys' practice squad might seem unusual. But the league has expanded and reshaped the rules around practice squad eligibility since the pandemic struck in 2020. This year, the 16-player practice squad can include up to six veteran players, and teams can elevate a particular player up to three times during the season.
That means Peters could be one of the Cowboys' standard practice squad elevations as early as Week 1 against Tampa Bay, though he's expected to go through a ramp-up period on the practice squad first.
"Obviously you have a tremendous amount of respect for what Jason has accomplished throughout his career," McCarthy said. "Going back, watching the video of his time with Chicago, it's definitely an opportunity of mutual interest. He'd love to finish his career here in Texas. We had a chance to visit late last week and through the weekend.
"He'll line up (in practice Monday) and we'll bring him along a little more slowly. Just do the individual (drills)."
At the moment, first-round draft pick Tyler Smith appears to be the leading candidate to start at left tackle against the Tampa Bay in the Sept. 11 season opener. Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan, Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said it's "safe to say" Tyler Smith is currently the expected fill-in starter for Week 1.
Last Wednesday, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy didn't officially name Tyler Smith the starter but said he'll "definitely get a lot of work at left tackle."
"We obviously recognize the physical talent. You can see that on the college tape. That's held true," McCarthy said. "He's a very powerful, powerful young man. He has an extremely bright future. I'm very confident the future is bright in front of him. He just has some work to do."
After taking about 60% of his practice reps at tackle in the spring, Tyler Smith competed exclusively at left guard in training camp with Connor McGovern. Now taking reps at tackle again, he said the switch outside is "like riding a bike."
"I've always been a left-sided player and so it definitely has helped with the transition as of late, just knowing that not too many things are changing," he said. "I'm still generating power from the same areas. It's just a different footwork, a little bit of a different stance, just things that you've got to tighten up."
The Cowboys also have fifth-round pick Matt Waletzko and 2021 fourth-round pick Josh Ball at tackle. Both have yet to play in a regular-season game.