The Dallas Cowboys have a long list of contract situations to address over the next several months including Dez Bryant, DeMarcus Lawrence, and even Jonathan Cooper. However, one very interesting situation to observe will be what the team decides to do with David Irving.
Unlike DeMarcus Lawrence, Irving is a restricted free agent. Essentially the Cowboys can place a tender on Irving that will allow them to receive compensation should he sign an offer with another team. The Cowboys could give him a second-round tender that would give Dallas a second-round pick should he sign elsewhere. Should Irving receive an offer the Cowboys will then have the opportunity to match.
The questions now becomes: Should the Cowboys allow Irving to leave? Given the Cowboys inability to generate consistent pass rush without Irving or Lawrence, the quick answer is no. Is there a player the Cowboys could take with that 2nd round pick that has the impact or positional flex of Irving?
When Irving was healthy he played primarily at the three-technique defensive tackle and Maliek Collins manned the nose tackle position. Many believe that was their best combination. Collins was selected to play three-technique, but an ankle injury hobbled him. Irving was able to generate penetration inside and create havoc behind the line of scrimmage. Inside penetration was something the Cowboys lacked when Irving missed time.
And there's the rub for the Cowboys and Irving: Can Dallas keep Irving on the field. After missing the first four games of the season for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, Irving missed an additional four games with various injuries while playing hurt in others late in the season.
The 2017 half season came after a season in which Irving played in 15 games but started only two of them as the Cowboys waited for his production to match his talent.
I would say (Irving) isn't the top (priority) because he’s restricted. He’s a tough one as you know. Obviously a guy (we like). It’ll be a difficult (decision) and probably, if anything, he needs to put together a full season with consistency and all of that. Obviously (he) played outstanding when he was healthy.” – Stephen Jones on Irving as a priority (credit: Drew Davidson, Fort Worth Star Telegram).
Another concern for Dallas is concussions as Irving had a head injury that ended his season prematurely. Nevertheless, for a team with a need, Irving is a force to be reckoned with when he is on the field. The Cowboys may need to give him the tender and match any reasonable offer because he makes this defense that much better when he plays.
The free agency period begins on March 14th, which is also the deadline for teams to submit their qualifying offers to restricted free agents. The David Irving watch will likely go on until at least that day.
Do you think the Cowboys should match any deal offered to David Irving or let him go and draft a more consistent player? Share your thoughts with Patrick on Twitter @DraftCowboys.