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Cowboys signing Everson Griffen shows commitment to pass rush

One of the weaknesses of the Dallas Cowboys was finding a pass rush specialist to pair with DeMarcus Lawrence, which the Cowboys hoped to have solved on Wednesday
Credit: AP
Minnesota Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen celebrates a sack during the first half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

DALLAS — Stephen Jones talking about talent acquisition being a 365-day-a-year job is almost like a campaign slogan rolled out every year at training camp, or before any major roster deadline, to assuage fans the franchise is always trying to improve.

The Dallas Cowboys chief operating officer uttered his famous phrase on Wednesday during the team's annual state of the team training camp press conference with owner Jerry Jones and coach Mike McCarthy joining Jones on the virtual dais.

"We always say player acquisition is 365 days a year, so, we're always looking to get better in terms of the personnel that may be out there," Jones said. "If we see an opportunity to improve or add depth to this football team, we'll certainly do it. But personally, my opinion, I feel as good about this team as any that we've had over the last five or 10 years."

Jones, the players, and fans of America's Team have to be sharing the same optimistic feelings after reports surfaced Wednesday evening that the club will sign Pro Bowl defensive end Everson Griffen.

The Cowboys are hoping the 32-year-old didn't leave his best work with the Minnesota Vikings, who drafted him in the fourth-round in 2010. Griffen produced 8.0 sacks, 11 tackles for loss, 24 quarterback hits, two pass deflections, and even an interception in his last season with the Vikings.

The man who would know if Griffen has something left in the tank is senior defensive assistant George Edwards, who was the Vikings' defensive coordinator from 2014-19. All four of Griffen's Pro Bowl selections and all three of his 10.0-plus sack seasons came when Edwards was the defensive coordinator.

Everson's paying attention to the details of what we're going to get done each week," Edwards told Vikings.com in 2014, Griffen's first 10.0-plus sack season. "But he's a complete player, second down playing the run, getting pressure. We got play-action pass, getting pressure when we have a third down series. Understand what we're trying to do pressure wise from a blitz standpoint, or just from a four-man rush. He really brings a lot to the table as far as his skillset."

Add another five seasons worth of playing experience on top of that, and the Cowboys are getting an impactful, wily veteran who may be the secret sauce to a bland pass rush that collected 39 sacks in 2019. 

The fewest number of games Griffen has played in a season is 11, which occurred twice: 2010 and 2018. However, he has played at least 15 games in the other eight seasons with five 16-game seasons. The dependability is there from the 6-3, 273 defensive end.

The signing of Griffen indicates the Cowboys aren't content with their edge defense's potential, which includes Aldon Smith having a renaissance and Randy Gregory awaiting reinstatement. Dallas needed a complement to DeMarcus Lawrence's presence on the edge. The Cowboys had that last season with Robert Quinn, who led the team with 11.5 sacks. Rather than waiting for a redemption story, the Cowboys made their own fortune and brought Griffen into the fold.

Do you think Emerson Griffen will be able to team with DeMarcus Lawrence to make life difficult for QBs in 2020? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.