FRISCO – The third time appears to be the charm for the Cowboys regarding Kony Ealy.
Once a draft prospect in 2014, Ealy nearly became a Cowboy last season as well before joining the Jets.
Now, four seasons and two NFL teams later, the Cowboys still like what they see from Ealy, who officially signed his one-year contract on Monday.
"We're excited about Kony," head coach Jason Garrett said. "We spent a lot of time on him coming out in the draft. We visited him a lot, we worked him out. He's one of those players we had targeted."
Ealy was a standout at Missouri and still available in the second round as the Cowboys had the 47th overall pick and likely would've gone that route had they not traded up to land DeMarcus Lawrence early in the second.
Ealy went to the Panthers for three seasons before being traded to the Patriots and then released. The Jets put a claim in for Ealy just ahead of the Cowboys, who tried to add him before the start of last season.
"We like Kony," Garrett said. "He's a young, developing player and we feel like he has a lot of football left in front of him. Kony went to Carolina and had a good career. Very impactful in the Super Bowl a couple of years ago and we think he's a good young, player, a lot of potential."
In Super Bowl 50, Ealy would've likely been the MVP had the Panthers defeated the Broncos. He sacked Peyton Manning three times and had an interception.
Now, Ealy, who doesn't turn 27 until December, is officially on the Cowboys, who released Benson Mayowa before the start of free agency. Lawrence signed his one-year franchise tag tender and will be a mainstay on one side, as Taco Charlton is heading into his second year. But Ealy, who has 15 career sacks, should give the Cowboys a chance to be both experienced and competitive at that spot.
"One of the things we try to do with our team is promote competition at every position," Garrett said. "That really is the reason for the decisions we make in the offseason, to create a competitive environment at every position across the board. We feel that brings out the best in everybody."