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FRISCO, TX — Diving deeper into the state of affairs across the offensive line, the Dallas Cowboys have their work cut out for them to determine what their front five will look like in 2023, and that's saying the very least.
Having already touched on the offensive tackle position in the previous edition of "Open Market", we take the laser pointer to the offensive interior, where Zack Martin thankfully remains the anchor (for now). The ascension of Tyler Biadasz at center helps to stabilize things further, going forward, but his absence due to injury in December shone a glaring light on the need to figure out depth.
That being said, it's time we discuss some NFL free agency options, assuming they're still around when things get underway on March 15 (legal tampering begins March 13).
With so many headline in-house free agents set to hit the open market if no deal is struck with the Cowboys, it's easy for McGovern to be overlooked in the bunch, but his presence or absence on the offensive line will determine how Dallas approaches building the unit for the 2023 season. McGovern has made good on his draft status after getting the nod as a third-round pick in 2019, initially serving as a backup interior lineman who has since ascended to the role of starting left guard.
The constant shifts across the offensive front, and the presence of rookie first-round pick Tyler Smith, saw McGovern eventually relegated to fullback duties later in the 2022 season — along with reps at center when Tyler Biadasz missed time with a high ankle sprain — putting his versatility on full display. So, in essence, losing McGovern would mean losing more than simply a guard.
The next man up in this situation would have to be viewed as a group effort until further notice, considering the amount of youth that exists behind McGovern, Biadasz and future Hall of Fame right guard Zack Martin. It's a group that includes Hoffman, a former undrafted talent who is entering his second year in the league.
Now signed to a futures deal to stick around this offseason, Hoffman has shown enough to at least get a crack at the competition (mostly at center), to the point where the Cowboys activated him in four games late in the 2022 season. There's still work to be done, though, considering his workload was exclusive to special teams in those contests.
Hoffman will match up with Lindstrom, amongst others like Matt Farniok, to determine who lands where on the Cowboys depth chart next season. Lindstrom also entered the league in 2022, and also as an undrafted player, but one who was highly sought-after by NFL teams before agreeing to join the Cowboys.
A former two-time First-Team All-ACC talent out of Boston College, Lindstrom is battling to extend his future in Dallas as one of/the viable option[s] for depth on the interior. The competition should get very, very interesting this summer for young players on the Cowboys offensive line not named Tyler Smith.
What's Out There:
Note: These players will be unrestricted on March 15, barring a newly-signed deal with their incumbent team prior to that date.
You have to love what Tyler Biadasz did in 2022, leveling up to Pro Bowl form on an offensive line wrought with changes at every position except right guard. So if you're wondering why I'm naming Pocic as an option here, it's because his name doesn't come to mind as someone I'd like to see supplant Biadasz at center. You see, the 27-year-old entered the league as the Seahawks second-round pick (2017) as a guard, not a center.
That's where he spent the entirety of his rookie season before being moved to center due to need, and that's where I'd look to put him in Dallas — should things not go as expected with Tyron Smith (which would then put Tyler Smith at LT1) and McGovern (free agency). Pocic could use the offseason to transition back to his true position, one that would create a strong situation in tandem with Tyler Smith at LT and Biadasz at center.
No way you thought I was done trying to raid the Eagles cupboard, right? In the offensive tackle edition of "Open Market", I pointed a laser at Andre Dillard as a great option for depth at the edges and, looking at the interior, I feel Seumalo provides the same type of intrigue — though he'd be a more expensive option. Unlike Pocic above, Seumalo would enter the situation in Dallas as not only a guard, having played the position in each of his seven seasons in Philadelphia, and as a starter.
The former third-round pick logged less than a handful of starts as a rookie but has mostly been top dog at the position since, and he's shown he can be a starter at both guard spots (needless to say, the one on the right is taken but Seumalo's flexibility is noted for insurance purposes). Would he be willing to leave the Eagles and join their most bitter rival? Said it before and I'll say it again: if Jason Peters…
This one would not be entirely dissimilar from Pocic, in both price range and position flex. Davis isn't expected to set the market at the guard position, but he would be asked to join the Cowboys as a left guard, and not the usual right guard he played for the Titans since joining that club as their third-round pick in 2019.
That wouldn't necessarily be an impossible sell when combined with knowing he'd join a unit that allows him to learn from Martin, and for a team that has a better chance at reaching the top of the NFL mountain — in comparison with the Titans current trajectory. And with 54 starts in his first four NFL seasons, durability isn't a question when it comes to Davis, something the Cowboys could desperately use some of in 2023.
Bozeman offers similar versatility as others mentioned on this list, having a lot of experience at the position you'd need him to come in and immediately contribute to — left guard — but with experience as a center as well, in the event shifts are required again at some point due to injury on the offensive line. A former sixth-round pick of the Ravens in 2018, he started his career in the middle of Harbaugh's offense before being moved left of center to help stabilize the protection scheme in front of Lamar Jackson.
The 28-year-old has 59 starts in the last four seasons, as experienced as anyone you'll find at the position(s), and is no stranger to performing in a supersized football market; seeing as he won two national championships with Alabama. His prove-it deal with the Panthers in 2022 didn't set the world on fire, but that doesn't take away from what he might be for the Cowboys.
I could've gone with a different fifth option here (and nearly did), but something about Turner makes me infinitely curious. On one note, he's not playing at the level that made him a five-time Pro Bowler, but it's also possible that's due to where he's been playing. All of his Pro Bowls were earned as a member of the Panthers in the Cam Newton era, where he became one of the best guards in the entire NFL.
He's since spent time with the Chargers, Steelers and then the Commanders; and that has me wanting to see what the 29-year-old (yes, he's still under 30) can produce if he's moved to left guard on a line that also features Martin, a newly-honored Pro Bowl center and a breakout first-round pick — not to mention Dak Prescott orchestrating. Bottom line: I believe there's still some juice in this orange, if he's placed in the correct produce section.