The Dallas Cowboys are looking to keep the core of the 2022 roster together, with their current efforts focused on two impactful defenders.
Bringing back players like safety Donovan Wilson and linebacker Leighton Vander Esch have set the tone in terms of how much the locker room will change this offseason. Of course, the departure of RB Ezekiel Elliott is a major change but they’ve re-signed or extended the majority of the team’s key players.
Now, Dallas Morning News reporter David Moore is saying that the Cowboys are trying to bring back edge rusher Dante Fowler Jr. and defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins.
“Dallas hopes to resign defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins and defensive end Dante Fowler, two people acquainted with the Cowboys thinking said,” Moore wrote on March 19.
Both Hankins and Fowler were first-year members of the Cowboys in the 2022 season, with Hankins arriving mid-season in a trade with the Las Vegas Raiders.
While neither player is considered a household name, both were significant cogs in the Cowboys’ system and they’ve apparently made an impression if Dallas is eager to bring the two defensive linemen back.
Fowler and Hankins Reinforce Defensive Line
Dallas has no shortage of star power on the defense with names like DE Micah Parsons and CB Trevon Diggs. But the reason why defensive coordinator Dan Quinn consistently has the team performing at the top end of the NFL is the quality and depth at each position.
Fowler and Hankins both raised the collective ceiling of the defense. For Fowler, he was expected to be a backup pass-rusher that could get to the QB while giving the starters a break. As Pro Football Reference shows, he succeeded in a major way with six sacks and two forced fumbles.
Hankins’ numbers are a bit less glamorous, but that’s due to his responsibilities rather than his play. The 31-year-old made 7 solo tackles in three regular season starts but also had a sack in the Cowboys’ 31-14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Wild Card round.
Hankins had to switch teams mid-season and learn a new system, but his ability showed through despite that. Meanwhile, Fowler continues to excel while playing under Quinn, who coached him while the two were with the Atlanta Falcons.
Cowboys Not Planning to Re-Sign Dalton Schultz
Fowler and Hankins seem probable to return to the Cowboys, but a recent report from The Athletic’s Jon Machota states that Dallas isn’t pursuing a new deal for tight end Dalton Schultz.
As Heavy’s Jonathan Adams recently covered, the Cowboys are seemingly fine moving forward with second-year TEs Peyton Hendershot and Jake Ferguson and letting Schultz find a bigger payday somewhere else.
“Dalton Schultz remains an unsigned unrestricted free agent, but it doesn’t sound like there’s much interest coming from the Cowboys at this point,” Machota reported. “They appear committed to moving forward with Jake Ferguson, Peyton Hendershot, Sean McKeon and a player they potentially add in the draft.”
Dallas franchise-tagged Schultz in 2022 after failing to reach an agreement on a new deal. A year later, it appears the two sides never got any closer to a contract.