IRVING, Texas – It likely wasn't a coincidence that Ron Leary signed his restricted free agent tender on Thursday, hours before the start of the NFL draft.
After all, with Leary signed to the one-year tender -- worth about $2.5 million -- the Cowboys are now able to trade him should the right opportunity arise. Speaking to reporters on Thursday night, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said he had already fielded inquiries about the veteran guard's services.
"We've had calls on him, yeah," Jones said. "If we needed to do something today, we could have."
Players are traded far less frequently than draft picks in today's NFL, but Leary is something of a rare case for the Cowboys. Originally an undrafted free agent, Leary climbed up the draft chart to become a starter at left guard. The Baton Rouge, La., native started 15 games for the Dallas offensive line that paved the way for DeMarco Murray's 1,845-yard campaign in 2014.
Unforeseen circumstances landed the Cowboys another premier guard in La'el Collins last spring, however. When Leary went down with a groin injury last September, the rookie seized the starting job and didn't let it go.
"Obviously, he'd like to start somewhere, and I don't blame him for that," Jones said. "I think he's a starting-caliber offensive guard in this league."
Leary obviously provides fantastic depth for the duo of Collins and Zack Martin, given that he has 35 career starts to his name. He also has a degenerative condition in his left knee – which contributed to him falling off of draft board back in 2012 – that makes it hard to gauge his trade value.
Having said all of that, Jones said the Cowboys will be willing to listening to offers as the draft moves into its later rounds – preferably for a mutually beneficial arrangement.
"As the draft goes, if the right situation presented itself – we think the world of Ron," he said. "If we got what we thought was fair, and Ron thought he was getting a chance to be a starter – which, I think he is a starting-caliber guard. If it worked out for both of us, we'd like to help him out – and help us out."