As the Cowboys shift from free agency to the draft, let's focus on players who are under contract, with a look back to last year but still focusing on their role for the 2023 season. Today, we'll continue the series with defensive end Dorance Armstrong.
What Worked: Coming into the season the Cowboys were banking on Armstrong taking the next step after seeing Randy Gregory depart for the Broncos in free agency a year ago. Their bet proved to be right, with Armstrong setting career-highs in multiple categories, including sacks with 8.5 TFLs with 10 and quarterback hits with 16. Armstrong also tallied two multi-sack games along with two fumble recoveries and a forced fumble to help anchor the Cowboys impressive pass rushing corps. He also continued to shine on special teams, blocking a punt and a field goal.
Needs Some Work: After getting off to a torrid start with five sacks in the first six games of the season, Armstrong cooled off in that department along with the rest of the Cowboys' defense. He had just 3.5 in the remaining 11 games. Part of that could have been attributed to Armstrong wearing down as the season went on given that he played the most defensive snaps of his career at 543 and played in all 17 games for the first time in his career.
His Best Work: When the Cowboys played the Bengals in Week 2, it was the first start of the season for Cooper Rush as he filled in for Dak Prescott who broke his thumb in the season opener against the Buccaneers. Facing the reigning AFC Champions with their backup, the Cowboys sacked Joe Burrow six times, two of which came courtesy of Armstrong early on to help set the tone in an eventual win for Dallas on a Brett Maher field goal as time expired.
Contract Consideration: Armstrong will hold a cap charge of $7.25 million in 2023 with a base salary of $5 million. He's under contract through 2024 before he hits the market prior to the 2025 season.
What's Next: Much like they did last season, the Cowboys will be hopeful that Armstrong will be able to at least replicate his 2022 production next season, if not take yet another step. He'll be one of the key pieces upfront defensively along with DeMarcus Lawrence and Micah Parsons as he enters his prime in his age-26 season.