Mac Engel

Is former first round pick Taco Charlton looking to leave the Dallas Cowboys?

Taco Charlton talks about his social media “fame”

Dallas Cowboys defensive end Taco Charlton enters a pivotal third season
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Dallas Cowboys defensive end Taco Charlton enters a pivotal third season

Taco Charlton sounds like a guy who knows he may be cut, even if his best chance to make an NFL roster is with the team that drafted him in the first round.

The third-year defensive end from Michigan talked after the Cowboys’ 17-9 preseason loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday night, and simply sounds like a guy who knows what people say about him.

Some of the chatter no longer bothers him, while there is an element to what he says that is unmistakable. He sounds like a guy who knows his NFL future may be elsewhere.

When I asked him if he thought about the pressure that is squarely on him now, he said, “Me and my agent got our talks. We hear a lot of things. I go out there with the same thing each time. I try to be the best player on the field. My mentality never changes: I try to dominate the guy I go against. I try to make plays for this team.”

This was not an answer I was expecting, even if it is the truth.

His answer is not bad, but it is odd.

Charlton was the 28th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. In 27 career games, he has four sacks. Talk of “bust” has been steady since the middle of his rookie year.

“We talk and we know stuff like that around the league,” he said. “We know my value and everything’s good.”


Charlton’s value is subjective. He was a first round draft pick, but he was more than likely graded as a second round player. Most drafts include, on average, about 20 players who are tagged with first round grades.

He is talented, and he has shown flashes in his two seasons. He’s also been a source of frustration for the Cowboys’ coaches. Charlton is not different from a lot of young players in that they can be slow to “get it,” and can be erratic.

As a third-year player, it’s time for Charlton to be consistent.

With defensive end Randy Gregory indefinitely suspended, and now Robert Quinn suspended the first two games of the NFL season for failing a drug test, there may never be a better opportunity for Charlton than right now.

To listen to Charlton, he sounds like a guy who is not sure if it’s going to be with the Cowboys.

He’s currently fighting for quality time with Dorance Armstrong, as the opposite side will soon be manned by Pro Bowler DeMarcus Lawrence.

“We just prepare for any situation, me and my agent,” he said. “I don’t know what is going to happen. I am here right now, working with this team. I’ll show up every day to work hard. ... You gotta play smart. My agent sets the mentality. He lets me know what needs to be done.”

Charlton said he has not asked to leave, and he is committed to being a Cowboy.

What he did say is that he’s effectively done paying any mind to the criticism he sees or hears, mostly on social media. He’s a first round pick, which makes him a target.

He’s a Dallas Cowboys, which makes him a bigger target.

He does not have big numbers, which makes him an easy target.

“A lot of people don’t like me as is. I gave up trying to win that game. No matter if I do good, they’re going to say he’s bad. If I do bad, they’re going to say he’s terrible,” Charlton said. “I try to avoid that social media award. I gave up on that. ... They like me (at Michigan). People’s minds are made up about me. They just want something to justify they didn’t like me in the first place. I’m happy with myself.”

And it sounds like he will be happy with himself whether it’s with the Cowboys or elsewhere.

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