Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys’ best hope for filling pass-rusher need will come in draft

The Cowboys haven’t had a defensive end with double-digit sacks since DeMarcus Ware had 11.5 in 2012.
The Cowboys haven’t had a defensive end with double-digit sacks since DeMarcus Ware had 11.5 in 2012. AP

The Cowboys need a pass rusher. Arlington Martin and Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett already has expressed his desire to play in his hometown.

But don’t expect it to happen.

The Cowboys would have to give up too much to go from No. 28 to No. 1 overall, which is what it likely would take to get Garrett.

“It’s a long ways,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “Very, very difficult to figure out, to give up enough to be able to go that high and get it. Certainly love it that he’d love to be a Cowboy, but it’s not surprising since he’s born and raised in Texas.”

The Cowboys, though, will have to find a pass rusher somewhere. They made only 34 sacks, the fifth year in a row they have made 34 or fewer.

The Cowboys have not had a double-digit sack leader since defensive tackle Jason Hatcher had 11 in 2013.

“At the end of the day, you want to get pressure,” Jones said. “An edge rusher, you want them to get pressure at the end of the day, and we all know how important that is in our game right now. You can find those run-stopping defensive linemen, and when I say you can find them, I have respect for the job they do, but it’s real difficult to find the guys who on a consistent basis, game in game out, down in down out put pressure on. Obviously we’re looking. They come in all shapes and sizes and speeds and guys have knacks, whether it’s a [Dwight] Freeney, whether it’s a [Julius] Peppers, whether it’s a J.J. Watt, you just never know what that is that’s going to, a DeMarcus Ware, how that’s going to come about in terms of their success in this league. Everybody would sure like to know it because it’s so important that you get pressure on the passer.

“Ever since DeMarcus left, we really haven’t had that guy.”

Ware had 11.5 sacks in 2012 and 19.5 the previous season. Ware, who played for the Cowboys from 2005-2013, is the team’s all-time sacks leader with 117.

The Cowboys aren’t likely to sign Arizona’s Calais Campbell, the top-rated defensive end who doesn’t have the franchise tag. The Giants tagged defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who also would have been too rich for the Cowboys.

“We’ve got to get better, and we all know you can’t make a living trying to hire pass rushers in free agency,” Jones said. “It’s very expensive, and you’re not necessarily getting the best ones when you do it.”

Ware could be an inexpensive option. However, he played in only 10 games last season and has missed 11 games with injuries the past two years. Ware, 34, had only four sacks last season after making 7.5 in 2015.

But the Cowboys’ best hope to find a pass rusher will come in the draft.

UCLA’s Takkarist McKinley, Auburn’s Carl Lawson and Missouri’s Charles Harris are the defensive ends who could remain available when the Cowboys select, according to CBS Sportsline draft analyst Dane Brugler.

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