Mac Engel

Who’s the best hope for Cowboys’ ‘war daddy’ pass rusher?

Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence recorded only one sack in nine games in 2016.
Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence recorded only one sack in nine games in 2016.

The last time Jerry Jones thought his team was “this close” it ended with the signing of Greg Hardy. That went well.

It really, really did.

The same for Pacman Jones. Or Joey Galloway. Or Roy Williams. Or Tank Johnson.

Whom are we missing?

The Dallas Cowboys should feel slightly better after this past season’s divisional round playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers than they did in 2015, but the problem remains the problem. The realistic answer remains Hope and Prayer, neither of whom is available this off-season.

Until they have a real solution this will remain the stumbling point between this franchise and their sixth Super Bowl title.

The Cowboys’ decision to cut DeMarcus Ware after the ’13 season ranks second only to the Mavericks’ move to pass on re-signing center Tyson Chandler after they won the NBA title.

Throw in the Rangers’ dumping catcher Ivan Rodriguez in his prime, too, to this list of local errors.

Passing on Chandler was immediately stupid, while it took some time for the Cowboys to regret dumping Ware.

Cutting Ware made perfect sense, but it turns out that he was not finished; they never found his replacement and had to stoop to signing Hardy and drafting Randy Gregory.

There is a perfect union to be made between the Cowboys and the best Aggie to hit the NFL since Von Miller (sorry, Mr. Manziel): Arlington’s own Myles Garrett.

Myles posted a video that went viral where he lobbied (begged?) our Jerry to make a deal with Cleveland, which has the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, to bring him to his favorite NFL team. Jerry would love nothing more than to make that happen.

This week, Jerry told Jean-Jacques Taylor on ESPN Radio that “If I have a chance to bring one of these premier pass rushers, one of these ‘war daddies’ that takes two to block, if I have a chance to get a player like that, I would.

“It’s not a question of that. It’s a question of, where is he? And who gives him up if he’s a veteran, or where is he in the draft, or where is he anywhere. So, yeah we do need pressure. We’re going to try to do something about it.”

Even in Jerry’s Disneyland existence where he could literally afford to be friends with an actual real- life Mickey Mouse, reality in this instance will have a say. Jerry can’t give up enough to acquire Garrett.

When Myles realized the video was a bad look, he said he was just kidding and that he would love to play for Cleveland. He should have just stopped at said he was kidding; his desire to play for the Browns is implausible. No one wants to play for the Browns.

The Cowboys are not landing Garrett, meaning their meal-ticket rusher is DeMarcus Lawrence.

You remember him. He had eight sacks in 2015, and followed that by being suspended for the first four games of the ’16 season for failing a drug test and registering one sack in nine games.

Unless the NFL allows pot-smoking on the sidelines, or in the huddle, Gregory is out for the 2017 season. His career has to be in doubt.

Benson Mayowa and David Irving showed a flash or two last season, but nothing to be counted on.

To find a rusher the Cowboys will need to sign one through free agency, something team executive vice president Stephen Jones is now hesitant to do; signing free agents means you screwed up the draft, and must overpay age.

Rushers like Jason Pierre-Paul of the New York Giants, Chandler Jones of the Arizona Cardinals and Melvin Ingram of the LA Chargers will be available as free agents, but the Cowboys don’t have the cap space to do this. Not unless they can redo Tony Romo’s contract or get him off the books before the start of NFL free agency. That’s not happening.

If they pass on that route, they will need to be as fortunate as they were in the 2016 draft, when they fell into quarterback Dak Prescott in the fourth round.

They will need that equivalent on their defensive front seven to evolve beyond this point.

Watch the Super Bowl teams of recent years, and each one has a player or two who can hit the quarterback.

The Broncos, with Ware, turned Panthers quarterback Cam Newton into a tackling dummy in Super Bowl 50. Before the Atlanta Falcons gagged away their 28-3 second-half lead to the New England Patriots in this most recent Super Bowl, their defense was hitting Patriots quarterback Tom Brady more than Roger Goodell ever did in a courtroom.

Landing Myles Garrett is the dream, but bringing back Ware is the more likely reality.

His children live in the area, and he could wait for the Cowboys to be able to clear the necessary cap space to make a deal possible.

He’s 34, the team knows and likes him, and the Cowboys would only need so many plays from him per game — think 15.

Could he make it that long? Injuries limited him to 10 games last season and he had only four sacks.

They need someone.

The Cowboys are “close” and Jerry wants a war-daddy rusher; the only good news this time is that he won’t sign Hardy.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.