Now that free agency has hit, the focus is shifting towards the draft. DallasCowboys.com will feature players who are currently under contract for next season, analyzing their past season and their future prospects.
Today, we continue the series with guard Joe Looney:
What's Been Good: The Cowboys don't just love "Jumbo Joe" for his wisecracks, Zeke impressions and positive locker room influence. For the last few years, Looney arguably has been their most versatile backup offensive lineman: Travis Frederick's primary backup who can play either guard spot, too. In 2018, when Frederick was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome at the end of training camp, Looney stepped in for 16 solid starts after reshaping his body and conditioning that offseason without any expectation to start. Now that Frederick is retiring after seven seasons, the Cowboys could be calling on Looney again.
What's Been Bad: Hard to quibble much with Looney's 2019 season. He made only one start (the season-finale win over Washington) at left guard for an injured Connor Williams and Xavier Su'a-Filo. Prior to that, he had played only 24 offensive snaps in the first 15 games. Whether or not he becomes a starter again in 2020, the Cowboys must continue their improvement in red zone scoring. While this doesn't fall solely on Looney, the offense ranked 29th in red zone efficiency and last in goal-to-go efficiency when Frederick was sidelined in 2018.
What's Next: The Cowboys and Looney agreed on a new one-year contract in late March, a few days before Frederick announced his retirement. That move now has considerably more importance. The Cowboys have other in-house options for replacing Frederick, including last year's third-round pick Connor McGovern, a heralded center at Penn State. But Looney by far has the most experience of any interior lineman on the current roster. Experience could be the deciding factor if the nation's COVID-19 crisis severely limits on-field offseason training time for the Cowboys and the rest of the league.