FRISCO, Texas – Although reports this week say free agent pass rusher Aldon Smith is not expected back with the Cowboys for a second season, head coach Mike McCarthy described the situation as "still fluid."
"I personally haven't moved on (from Smith)," McCarthy said Thursday in an offseason catch-up press conference with the media. "I was in a conversation yesterday about Aldon. So we'll see how that works out moving forward."
Reinstated by the NFL after nearly five years out of football, Smith started all 16 games at right end and ranked second behind DeMarcus Lawrence in sacks (five) while playing close to three-fourths of the defensive snaps. Four of Smith's five sacks came in the first three games of the season, but he also finished second on the team in quarterback pressures (33).
Smith's return was one of the league's best stories in a 2020 season challenged by the pandemic. The seventh overall draft pick by the 49ers back in 2011, Smith signed a one-year deal with the Cowboys last April and was subsequently reinstated after past violations of the league's substance abuse and personal conduct policies. Having turned his personal life around, Smith hoped to inspire others who have dealt with similar struggles.
If Smith doesn't re-sign with Dallas, Randy Gregory would likely have an expanded role opposite DeMarcus Lawrence in 2021. Gregory emerged as a difference maker in his return from a year-and-a-half suspension last season, posting 3.5 sacks in 10 games.
also added depth at edge rusher last week by reaching a two-year deal with free agent Tarell Basham.
The current defensive end depth chart includes Lawrence, Gregory, Basham, Dorance Armstrong, Bradlee Anae and Ron'Dell Carter.