Not surprisingly, the Dallas Cowboys have yet to make a splash in 2021 NFL free agency, or at least not involving any players coming in from other clubs. Their biggest tsunami was created by to keep him in town through the 2024 season, followed by several other inside moves headlined by re-signing cornerback Jourdan Lewis to a three-year deal. As the Cowboys continue to wait out the first wave of free agency, they've already begun bargain shopping -- again dipping into the Houston Texans pot.
The Cowboys are set to sign defensive tackle Carlos Watkins to a one-year deal, the team announced on Thursday, as the 27-year-old attempts to have a better go in Dallas than fellow ex-Texans defensive lineman Eli Ankou, whom Houston received a seventh-round pick for in 2020.
Ankou is currently a free agent.
Watkins will hit I-45 North having 18 starts in 42 games, carrying four career sacks and 74 combined tackles in his four-year career in South Texas. The former first-team All-ACC talent joined the Texans as a fourth-round pick out of Clemson in 2016, and will be added to a Cowboys defensive front in dire need of beefing up its interior. The 6-foot-3, 310 pound nose tackle is definitely a mass opposing linemen have to work around, but he didn't grade well in 2020.
He'll have to sharpen his craft if he wants to potentially do what Antwaun Woods was able to do in 2018, with Woods going from being a camp body to starting nose tackle in the same year. With Woods currently a restricted free agent, and on him, there's a chance he parts ways with the team -- if he gets an offer they decide to not match. In that spirit, Watkins might have more of a chance at proving himself, but time will tell.
Especially with the emergence of former third-round pick Neville Gallimore.
And as they gain one, the Cowboys lose another, with tight end Blake Bell departing in free agency. Bell, lovingly referred to around the league as "The Belldozer," is reportedly reuniting with the Kansas City Chiefs on a one-year deal, per Gabe Ikard of SiriusXM Radio, after spending the 2020 season in Dallas. The 29-year-old was a key part of the Chiefs championship season in 2019, and is looking to get that old thing back. For the Cowboys, it leaves them looking for a TE3 behind Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz, the latter coming off of a breakout season while the former readies to return from a torn ACL suffered in Week 1.
This opens the door for backups Cole Hikutini and Sean McKeon to step up and take over the role, but they'll have to prove they can also be the blocker Bell was/is. And as free agency begins rolling along, the Cowboys won't be afraid to add more bodies at the position to make sure they're all set.