IRVING, Texas – Benson Mayowa is no rookie, but it was still easy to pick him out as a new face in the Cowboys' locker room on Friday morning.
Reporters streamed into the facility to talk to the likes of Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott as rookie minicamp got underway this weekend. But surrounded by all that commotion was Mayowa, quietly going about the business of acclimating to the roster.
To hear it from the fourth-year defensive end, that's just the way he'd prefer it.
"I'd rather be lowkey and have people say 'Who is this guy? Where did he come from,'" Mayowa said. "I'm not loud. I don't want to talk about anything. I'm not about to brag or boast about anything. But when I ball – 'Who is this guy?' That's what I like."
That's exactly the situation Mayowa finds himself in six weeks after signing in Dallas. The Cowboys opted not to pursue big-money pass rushers like Olivier Vernon during free agency last month. Instead, they opted to sign Mayowa – a little-known restricted free agent who had spent time in Seattle and Oakland during his brief NFL career.
"In my position, there's not too many people that get this opportunity – me being a third-year player and getting the opportunity to opt out of my contract with the Oakland Raiders. It was great opportunity," Mayowa said.
The Cowboys felt good enough about Mayowa's potential that they signed him to a three-year, $8.5 million contract, despite the fact the he has just three starts and two sacks to his career resume.
"We think he can do some things that will bring some juice to the table. That's why we signed him," said Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones last weekend during the NFL draft.
From the outside perspective, it was a move that caused some confusion. During his one season with Seattle, Mayowa played in two games and made two tackles. He featured regularly in two seasons with the Raiders, but he managed a total of just 30 tackles and had just one sack in each season.
"I played behind great players. When I was out there, it was Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril, Bruce Irvin – big-name guys," Mayowa said. "When I went to Oakland, I was behind Justin Tuck, Lamarr Woodley for a little bit, Khalil Mack. So I always had to scratch my way in places. That's why I came here. It's a great opportunity."
There's no denying the opportunity in front of him. The Cowboys are thin at defensive end as it is, and it looks like they'll be without the duo of Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence for the first month of the season. Considering those facts, Mayowa should have every opportunity to find the larger role that has eluded him so far – and he's confident he can.
"In two years I played 30 percent of the plays. That's nothing," he said. "That's two years, plus my rookie year – that's probably 700 plays for my career. I know I've got my best football ahead of me because there's opportunity. If you take opportunity, that's how you shine. You run with it. That's what I'm trying to do."