July 19, 2024

Cowboys DE Sam Williams to have an increased role?

Dan Quinn did well to raid the Cowboys’ roster, signing three of the team’s free agents. Two of those additions — edge-rushers Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler — are set to serve as Commanders defensive ends as the team regroups post-Montez Sweat and Chase Young.

The Armstrong and Fowler defections wound the Cowboys’ D-line, but they did not exactly gut the unit. Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence remain, and the Cowboys will gain a clearer picture of what they have in 2022 second-round pick Sam Williams. An earlier report pegged Williams as likely to play more in 2024; the Dallas Morning News’ David Moore indicates he is the lead candidate to be the Cowboys’ top rusher off the bench this season.

While the Quinn connection opened the door to Fowler and Armstrong making intra-NFC East relocations, Moore adds the Cowboys deeming Williams readier for more work helped lead the older pass rushers to Washington. Despite Williams missing two games as a rookie, he logged only 30 more defensive snaps (303) in 2023. With Armstrong (468) out of the picture, the former second-round pick will be a more important part of Dallas’ pass rush this season.

Williams, 25, recorded 4.5 sacks last season; which eclipsed his 2022 number (four). Though, the Ole Miss product tallied just nine QB hits. And his 17 QB pressures did not rank in the top five among Cowboys. Williams did a total of 10 tackles for loss as a rookie, showing signs of potential. Leading the way for the Cowboys’ DE3 role, Williams could begin a true course for a lucrative second contract by making strides this year.

This gig netted Armstrong a three-year, $33M Washington accord, one that came after he played out a two-year, $14M contract following Randy Gregory‘s about-face that closed an unusual round of negotiations. A month after Gregory’s Denver departure, the Cowboys chose Williams 56th overall. The team gave Fowler another one-year contract in 2023, however, restricting Williams’ upward mobility. The ex-Quinn Falcons charge played in all 17 games, totaling four sacks as a supporting-caster.

The Cowboys placed a premium on a well-stocked pass-rushing crew, drafting Western Michigan’s Marshawn Kneeland 56th overall. A rumored sleeper who booked 16 pre-draft visits, Kneeland joins Williams as a potential auxiliary rusher in Dallas. Williams compiled a better college resume, notching 20.5 sacks in his three Rebels seasons. Kneeland tallied 13 in five Western Michigan slates. But this duo stands to comprise Dallas’ top rotational options. It appears Williams will be asked to do more to start this season.