Does it still make sense?
It happened before enlistment, as Dallas’ quest to boost the passing rush could have turned into the services of the former squad opponent and two-time Super Bowl champion. Pierre Paul, 33, remains on the free agency block after four seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which followed eight years with the Cowboys’ NFC East rivals from New York. Those who feared the prospect of cheering the former giant are likely to be reassured, as a new ESPN report notes that while Dallas had some interest in Pierre Paul, “the draft may have altered those plans.”
JPP and Williams
Although the Cowboys had 41 sacks last season (up from 31 in 2020), the team sought to bolster its forward defensive unit after posting some less-than-stellar numbers in the advanced classes. He beat Dallas 202 times last season (he finished second in the NFL with Carolina) but put pressure on just 18.5 percent of opposition dropouts, the fifth-worst average in the league.
While Pierre Paul has lost somewhat in the Tampa Bay youth revolt on the defensive line, he has served as a solid contributor over the past two seasons, notably placing 11.5 sacks between the regular season and play-off games during the Buccaneers’ tour to Super Bowl LV. His impact in ultimately futile title defense last season was marred by a rotator cuff tear but he managed to earn 31 tackles (2.5 sacks) in over a dozen regular season games.
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Pierre Paul put him with the Giants regularly in confrontations against the Cowboys, having faced Dallas 15 times in his career. Despite winning the Cowboys in nine meetings, Pierre Paul played a major role in the losses, notably blocking Dan Bailey’s potentially equalizing goal in the final seconds of the December 2011 meeting in Arlington. The following season, Pierre Paul scored the first touchdown of his career, blocking Tony Romo on his way to a 29-24 Giants victory.
Including Williams, an all-American from Mississippi, the Cowboys will also use their last three picks to get the assists up front seven. Williams’ outstanding SEC teammate Damon Clark (outside LSU linebacker) and John Ridgway (defensive interference from Arkansas) joined the team in the fifth round while their final choice was used in Oklahoma State linebacker Devin Harper.
But most of all, with Randy Gregory losing to free agency, the Cowboys acquired Williams while also retaining Dorance Armstrong and signing former Falcons Dante Fowler.
All this likely means that JPP will not be a cowboy.
The new Dallas NFL student is scheduled to participate in junior junior camp activities starting Friday in Frisco. In addition to the nine recruits (titled first-round blocker Tyler Smith), the team received 20 first-year free agents, and Sam Williams is now a focal point of The Star.