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Cowboys Draft DE Sam Williams; Still Need to Sign Jason Pierre-Paul?

There are hints that the Cowboys were ready to make amends with an old enemy before Sam Williams came along.

The idea of Jason Pierre-Paul welcomed into AT&T Stadium with open arms sounds ludicrous to modern Dallas Cowboys fans. But, we know that reportedly such a reality was discussed before Dallas landed Sam Williams in the second round (56th overall) of the recent NFL Draft.

Is it still sensible?

It did before the draft, as Dallas’ quest to bolster its pass rush could've turned to the services of the former divisional foe and two-time Super Bowl champion. Pierre-Paul, 33, lingers 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 for the former Giant, however, could likely rest assured, as a new ESPN report hints that while Dallas “had some interest” in Pierre-Paul, “the draft might have changed those plans.''

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Though the Cowboys earned 41 sacks last season (up from 31 in 2020), the team sought bolster its front defensive unit after posting some less-than-stellar numbers in advanced categories. Dallas blitzed 202 times last season (tied for second-most in the NFL with Carolina) but generated pressure on only 18.5 percent of opposing dropbacks, the fifth-worst rate in the league.

While Pierre-Paul got somewhat lost in Tampa Bay’s youth revolution on the defensive line, he nonetheless served as a strong contributor over the last two seasons, notably putting in 11.5 sacks between the regular season and playoffs during the Buccaneers’ run to Super Bowl LV. His impact in last season’s ultimately futile title defense was marred due to a torn rotator cuff but he still managed to earn 31 tackles (2.5 sacks) over a dozen regular season games.

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Pierre-Paul’s time with the Giants regularly placed him in matchups against the Cowboys, having faced off against Dallas 15 times in his career. Though the Cowboys have emerged victorious in nine meetings, Pierre-Paul played a major role in the losses, notably blocking Dan Bailey’s would-be tying field goal in the final seconds of a December 2011 meeting in Arlington. In the following season, Pierre-Paul scored the first touchdown of his career, taking a Tony Romo interception the distance en route to a 29-24 Giants victory.

Including Williams, an All-American out of Mississippi, the Cowboys would also use their final three picks for assistance in the front seven. Williams’ fellow SEC standouts Damone Clark (a linebacker out of LSU) and John Ridgeway (a defensive tackle from Arkansas) joined the team in the fifth round while their final choice was used on Oklahoma State linebacker Devin Harper.

But most of all, with Randy Gregory lost to free agency, the Cowboys took Williams while also retaining Dorance Armstrong and signing Falcons ex Dante Fowler.

All of which likely means JPP won't be a Cowboy.

The Dallas NFL freshman are set to partake in rookie minicamp activities beginning on Friday in Frisco. In addition to their nine draftees (headlined by first-round blocker Tyler Smith), the team has welcomed in 20 first-year free agents, and Sam Williams now gets to be a focal point at The Star.