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Next Man Up: Center or guard in play for T.J Bass


Like many teams around the league, the Cowboys sent a strong message in free agency. However, it wasn't in the form of adding a lot of players or keeping the majority of their own. What seems clear for the Cowboys is their willingness to give opportunities to younger players on the team.

This roster is loaded with players still on their rookie contracts that haven't had that breakout season just yet. Could it be this year? The Cowboys can only hope, especially considering they signed just one player (Eric Kendricks) in free agency and currently have just six picks in the NFL Draft later this month.

So the Cowboys have to lean on some of their previous drafts and free-agent signings to help fill out this roster.

Today, we'll continue the series with offensive lineman T.J. Bass

  • Name: T.J. Bass
  • Position: Guard / Center
  • Experience: 2nd Year
  • Games Played/Starts: 17 / 2
  • Years Left on Contract: 2
  • How Acquired: UDFA 2023 (Oregon)
  • Key Stat: The Cowboys averaged 158 yards rushing in the two games Bass started in 2023. Overall, the team averaged 112.9 rushing yards for the season.

The Past: In just one season, Bass has proven to be another quality post-draft addition for the Cowboys. In fact, with the 2023 draft class providing limited contributions last year, Bass was among one of the more productive players in the entire rookie class. He was active for every game on the schedule and had two starts because of injury. Bass was the starting right guard in Arizona, where the Cowboys rushed for a season-high 185 yards. He started at left guard in Week 18 against Washington, where the Cowboys rushed for 131 yards, the sixth-most of the season.

The Present: This should be a big offseason for Bass, who has a chance to not only compete for a starting job, but perhaps show off his versatility at the same time. The Cowboys haven't come out and said their lineup intentions for players such as Bass, but there seems to be some talk regarding his ability to play center. He only played guard last season in the games but he did take some practice reps at center. This year, the Cowboys have lost both their starting center (Tyler Biadasz) and left tackle (Tyron Smith) in free agency. The center spot is open and left tackle might create a ripple-effect if Tyler Smith moves to tackle and guard is now up for grabs. One way or another, Bass should be in line to compete for a starting gig. If not, that's a great game-day backup to have a player who can fill in at either guard spot and center.

The Future: This looks bright for Bass, who many thought would be drafted last year as the Cowboys had a Day 3 grade on him. Now, he's one season into his career and already getting mentioned as a possible starter. Down the road, he could definitely develop into a starting player and given his size, it appears as if center might be his best option. But even if he doesn't start, there is always a role for the backup player who can fill three spots across the line. What happens this year with Bass will tell us a lot about what his potential is down the road. He still has two seasons under contract before he would hit restricted free agency so the Cowboys still have plenty of time to find out what kind of player Bass will be.

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