Don't miss any of the action with our daily updates: news, notes and more throughout the Cowboys' regular season. Presented by Blockchain.com
Mar. 22 UpdatesTakk McKinley
Height: 6-2Weight: 250 lbsCollege: UCLA
1:15 p.m. - The Cowboys have retained a handful of their own veteran free agents so far in the last two weeks. And we can now add one of their practice squad vets to the mix.
Takk McKinley has been re-signed by the Cowboys, putting yet another former first-round pick on the roster. McKinley spent most of last season on the Cowboys' practice squad and although he was elevated once on game day, he never played in a game during the 2022 season.
McKinley, a first-round pick (26th overall) of the Falcons in 2017 when Dan Quinn was the head coach in Atlanta, has 20 career sacks, including 17.5 in his four years with the Falcons. He spent a year with the Browns, then another with the Rams before last season in Dallas.
McKinley now gives the Cowboys 11 players who were drafted in the first round, which includes the Cowboys re-signing Leighton Vander Esch and Dante Fowler, and trading for Brandin Cooks and Stephon Gilmore.
------------------------------------ Mar. 21 UpdatesRico Dowdle
Height: 6-0Weight: 215 lbsCollege: South Carolina
9:40 a.m. - Ezekiel Elliott is no longer with the Dallas Cowboys and that means focusing in on how to rebuild the running back position around Tony Pollard, who is currently on a franchise tag and recovering from a fractured leg suffered in the NFC Divisional Round, and that's led the club to strike a deal with Rico Dowdle in free agency.
Dowdle, a former undrafted free agent in 2020, joined the Cowboys following the draft and spent his first three NFL seasons in Dallas - establishing himself as a worthy backup who saw his 2022 season derailed by injury.
That cleared the way for rookie running back Malik Davis to shine when given the opportunity, so Dowdle re-enters the mix looking to once again compete against Davis once training camp rolls around in July. Having initially entered this year's free agency as a restricted free agent, Dowdle was not issued a tender offer and, as such, became an unrestricted free agent able to sign with any of the other 31 teams.
He has opted to remain in Dallas, however, where his career began and he feels he'll have a good shot at finally making an impact on the field.
------------------------------------ Mar. 15 UpdatesDeMarcus Lawrence
Height: 6-3Weight: 265 lbsCollege: Boise State
3:41 p.m. - More cap space was created on Wednesday, just a few minutes after the start of the free-agent signing period. The Cowboys opened up nearly $9 million by reworking the numbers on DeMarcus Lawrence's contract.
The Cowboys gave D-Law a restructured deal just last year, guaranteeing him the next two seasons (2022 & 2023). But now, the team has reworked the deal even more, opening up some room for the Cowboys to make a few more moves here in 2023 free agency.
Lawrence made his third Pro Bowl this past season, recording six sacks but also 45 QB pressures, which ranked second on the team behind Micah Parsons (69).
The Cowboys also saved some cap space on Wednesday by reworking the deal for Tyron Smith.
------------------------------------ Terence Steele
Height: 6-6Weight: 310 lbsCollege: Texas Tech
9:59 p.m. - There are still some things to work out before the Cowboys can know, definitively, if Terence Steele will anchor the right side of their offensive line going forward. The 25-year-old enters this offseason as a restricted free agent, and the Cowboys have officially made their first move in the situation.
Steele has received a second-round tender in Dallas, which means the Cowboys have the right to match any offer sheet he might receive in negotiations with other teams.
If they choose to not match the highest bid, they'll lose Steele but gain a second-round pick as compensation from the team that acquires him. There is currently no long-term deal on the table between the two sides, and Steele is working to return from a torn ACL suffered in late December.
With Connor McGovern set to join the Buffalo Bills in free agency, and things not yet solidified with Tyron Smith, the flux surrounding Steele adds more question marks to the state of the Cowboys offensive line.
------------------------------------ Mar. 14 UpdatesLeighton Vander Esch
Height: 6-4Weight: 256 lbsCollege: Boise State
5:30.m. - It's been a blockbuster day for the Cowboys on Day 2 of NFL free agency, with Leighton Vander Esch getting in on the action from what's been a very, very busy day in Dallas.
After a willfully inactive first day, the Cowboys have agreed to terms with Vander Esch on a two-year deal, per multiple reports, that will keep him in Dallas through the 2024 season. This news comes on the heels of re-signing impact safety Donovan Wilson to a three-year deal and acquiring All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore via trade with the Colts.
Vander Esch, a former first-round pick of the Cowboys in 2018, burst out of the gate as a rookie linebacker en route to Pro Bowl and Second-Team All-Pro honors in his first year out. His career was then slowed by injury, leading the team to forego his fifth-year option and instead to re-sign him on a one-year deal in 2022.
He found his prime form again last year, flying all over the field and showing there's still a ton of tread left on his young tires, also playing in 16 games (14 regular season and 2 postseason), earning a third contract in Dallas.
------------------------------------ Noah Brown
Height: 6-2Weight: 225 lbsCollege: Ohio State
11:20 a.m. - Dominoes are starting to fall in free agency for the Dallas Cowboys, and that includes getting clarity on veteran wide receiver Noah Brown, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday.
That appears to no longer be the case, however, with Brown agreeing to terms with the Houston Texans on a one-year deal, per multiple reports, that will see him suit up in South Texas for the 2023 season, and that will mark the first time Brown has ever worn an NFL jersey that didn't belong to the Cowboys.
The former seventh-round pick became a core special teamer for the Cowboys over the course of his career thus far, also contributing in a major way to their success in 2022 following the loss of Dak Prescott for five games due to injury.
Brown's production as a receiver slowed as the season went on though, leading to the decision to sign T.Y. Hilton. Having been with the Cowboys since entering the league in 2017, he'll now try his hand with the Texans and new head coach DeMeco Ryans.
------------------------------------ Donovan Wilson
Height: 6-0Weight: 204 lbsCollege: Texas A&M
9:47 a.m. - The Cowboys have said all along their focus in free agency will be to retain some of their top players. And with that, Donovan Wilson falls into that category.
As of Tuesday morning, the Cowboys are still working on a contract with Wilson that will keep him in Dallas. For now, he has not signed or even agreed to terms, despite multiple reports of a three-year deal being finalized.
Wilson led the Cowboys in tackles last season with 101, to go along with five sacks and two forced fumbles and an interception.
Bringing him back would further solidify the safety position that already includes veterans Jayron Kearse and Malik Hooker under contract, along with youngsters Israel Mukuamu and Markquese Bell.
------------------------------------ Luke Gifford
Height: 6-3Weight: 243 lbsCollege: Nebraska
9:31 a.m. - The Cowboys leading tackler on special teams is headed out the door. Gifford is expected to sign a two-year deal with the Titans, according to multiple reports.
Gifford had a career-high 12 special teams tackles for the Cowboys in 2022. Throughout his four years in Dallas, he played mostly on special teams, recording just 10 total tackles on defense.
The Cowboys don't have a lot of linebackers on the current depth chart now with Gifford expected to leave. Also, veterans Leighton Vander Esch and Anthony Barr are both unrestricted free agents. That leaves just Micah Parsons, Damone Clark, Jabril Cox and Devin Harper as linebackers on the roster.
------------------------------------ Mar. 13 UpdatesMichael Gallup
Height: 6-1Weight: 198 lbsCollege: Colorado State
4:36 p.m. - The Cowboys are in the process of freeing up millions in salary cap space as the start of 2023 NFL free agency takes hold, and Michael Gallup's contract is the latest to help their cause.
The team has restructured their deal with Gallup in a move that will free up $7 million toward the salary cap, per reports, a trigger that was built into the contract when Gallup agreed to the five-year deal in 2022.
The restructuring of Gallup's deal comes only days after the Cowboys did the same on deals with Dak Prescott and Zack Martin - freeing up $30 million from those two moves. Initially sitting around $15 million in cap space to begin the week, the front office is now closer to $22 million and with the ability to free up more space in the coming days/weeks, should they need it.
An extension for Prescott is not off of the table, nor is a restructuring of Tyron Smith's deal, as things continue to get sorted with the hopes of making waves in free agency this offseason.
------------------------------------ Connor McGovern
Height: 6-5Weight: 308 lbsCollege: Penn State
1:03 p.m. - The first domino of the NFL legal tampering period, which began on Monday, March 13, that impacts the Dallas Cowboys has landed, and it's by way of starting left guard Connor McGovern.
The 25-year-old has agreed to terms with the Buffalo Bills on a three-year deal, per multiple reports, that will secure him in Upstate New York through the 2025 season. McGovern joined the Cowboys as a third-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, ascending to the role of starting left guard under the tutelage of head coach Mike McCarthy and his staff.
Versatility was the name of the game for McGovern in Dallas, and especially over the last two seasons, often deployed as a fullback in jumbo packages to help the rushing attack from time to time.
He'll now head to Buffalo to protect quarterback Josh Allen, assuming the deal is finalized when the league year opens officially on Wednesday, and the Cowboys will likely look to rookie sensation Tyler Smith as an option to fill the void at left guard in 2023.
------------------------------------ Feb. 28 UpdatesTyron Smith
Height: 6-5Weight: 320 lbsCollege: USC
1:31 p.m. - When Tyron Smith injured his hamstring before the start of last season, there were doubts he'd not only return to the field in 2022, but maybe not again for the Cowboys.
Not only did he come back last December and finish the season, but according to Stephen Jones on Tuesday, he is expected back to the team again in 2023.
The Cowboys chief operating officer said "yes" when asked if Smith was expected back and didn't sound too eager in changing his contract, which includes a $13 million base salary and cap charge over $17 million.
"We'll always do reworks and things of that nature," Jones said. "We have the ability to do that. Right now, we're comfortable where we are."
And it's still unclear where Tyron Smith will play, especially with Terence Steele expected back at right tackle and Tyler Smith spending most of his rookie season there. Either way, Jones applauded Tyron Smith's ability to to help the team last year.
"Obviously, Tyron is the ultimate team player. There's really not a lot of conversation with Tyron. It seems like he's very content to do what it takes to help the team."