DALLAS — Defensive end Tarell Basham isn't starting over with the Dallas Cowboys after signing a two-year contract in free agency.
As the 27-year-old sees it, the move to Dallas is a continuation of his journey that started as a 2017 third-round pick from Ohio.
"It's definitely going to be a new chapter from the last chapter, but it's the same book," Basham told reporters on June 3. "It's the Book of Bash. It's the Book of Bash. We're still in the same book, but one thing I like to tell people is it's the same eh, different toilet, you know. So, I'm still taking the same eh, just got on a different toilet, you know what I'm saying. We're moving up."
After spending 2017-18 with the Indianapolis Colts, playing 16 games, Basham played 42 games with 12 starts with the New York Jets from 2018-20. Although the 6-4, 266-pound edge rusher collected 69 combined tackles, eight tackles for loss, 19 quarterback hits, 5.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, an interception, and seven pass breakups, the Jets were among the worst teams in the NFL in his span.
The Adam Gase era saw the Jets compile a 9-23 record with a 2-14 finish in 2020. The defeats were so mounting that Basham did not realize how demoralizing the organization was until he got to the Cowboys.
"What's crazy is I didn't even know that the environment was what it was," Basham said. "It didn't feel like that while you were in it. But then you walk into a good one like this, and from the top down, from the office, the head office, to the equipment staff, we all expect to win in this building. And you can feel that. It's the difference."
In addition to being a part of a franchise with expectations to qualify for the playoffs annually, Basham admits he was attracted to the attention that surrounds the NFC East club.
Said Basham: "I couldn't see a reason why not [to sign with the Cowboys]. America's Team, publicity, knowing that you have a better chance than most to go to the playoffs every year. Just knowing that the exposure and the ability they have on this team, the explosiveness that they have on offense."
The Jets defense had its moments, but they were consistently undercut by the offense's inability to score points. In 2020, the Jets finished dead last with 243 points scored. The theme has been one that has cropped up throughout Basham's four seasons in the NFL, but the Cowboys' potent offense featuring quarterback Dak Prescott, running back Ezekiel Elliott, and receivers Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb has the chance to finally give Basham a dominant offense to relieve the stress.
"I feel like it's been a while since I played with a really explosive offense, you know what I'm saying, to complement a really good defense," said Basham. "This seemed like the best opportunity to come and be successful. I feel like I've got enough reasons in my past."
Basham joins a Cowboys defensive unit that finished tied with the Miami Dolphins and Tennessee Titans for eighth-most yards per play allowed at 5.9. The Cowboys defense did finish tied with the Titans for seventh-most takeaways with 23, though. Dallas' defense has aspects to build on, and it may be Basham's best shot to date to finally finish the season with a playoff-bound club.
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