Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick stunned the NFL when he announced his retirement from the NFL on Monday. The seven-year veteran, who earned five Pro Bowl selections and a first-team All-Pro, didn't want to keep playing the game if it wasn't at a high level.
Frederick's retirement puts the Cowboys in a lurch as losing the services of their valuable center comes unexpectedly. However, there are a few directions the Cowboys can go in to replace Frederick along the offensive line with depth players being elevated to a starting role, young players grabbing hold of more playing time, or the use of draft resources being the most likely scenarios at play.
1. Joe Looney — The former San Francisco 49ers 2012 fourth-round pick played all 16 games at center for the Cowboys in 2018 when Frederick missed the entire season due to Guillain-Barre syndrome.
Looney is a player who is part of the off-field chemistry of the offensive line that helps with on-field production. At 29 years old, the reality is the Cowboys would have two or three seasons at best with Looney in his prime. The former Wake Forest Demon Deacon could be the immediate solution to replace Frederick if no other moves are made.
2. Connor McGovern — The Cowboys didn't just take the Penn State product in the third round of last year's draft so he could ride the pine. McGovern missed the entire preseason with a torn pectoral muscle, however.
The good news is McGovern will have had an entire year to take part in an NFL strength and conditioning program to get him up to speed, similar to how Ron Leary wasn't ready to take over at left guard for Nate Livings until his second year.
McGovern was drafted as a guard but also started at center for the Nittany Lions, so, if he could beat out Looney for the starting job, it would give the Cowboys another quality starter on a rookie deal.
3. Lloyd Cushenberry — Dallas would have to consider themselves fortunate if the redshirt junior fell that far in the second round of the upcoming NFL Draft; he could be taken in the 40s, and the Cowboys don't have a second-rounder until No. 51.
Cushenberry made first-team All-SEC in the LSU Tigers' national championship season in 2019. The Cowboys have had success with former Bayou Bengals manning their offensive line; just ask right tackle La'el Collins.
4. Levi Brown — The Cowboys have done a particularly fine job of cultivating undrafted talent and plugging them in to starting jobs. Leary and Collins are the best examples over the past decade.
The Cowboys have never turned center over to an undrafted free agent, which means taking Brown would be a project. The 6-4, 297-pound redshirt senior could grow into a role that would provide depth at the interior offensive line spots and possibly take over for Looney in 2021.
Who do you think should become the next starting center for the Dallas Cowboys? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.
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