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Dallas Cowboys' 2019 free-agent signings: Randall Cobb fills slot receiver need

Injuries limited Randall Cobb's production in his eighth season with the Packers. Stacy Revere/Getty Images

A breakdown of the Dallas Cowboys' 2019 free-agent signings.

Randall Cobb, wide receiver

The Cowboys signed Cobb to a one-year deal, including a $2 million signing bonus and a max value of the pact worth up to $5.5 million. Here's a closer look at Cobb, who spent the previous eight seasons with the Green Bay Packers.

What it means: After losing Cole Beasley last week, the Cowboys wanted to find a veteran presence who could handle the slot. Cobb has been productive when healthy and a fresh start could help him regain his form. His understanding of how to work underneath will help Dak Prescott and give the quarterback a second option to Jason Witten in the middle of the field. Cobb can also play as an outside receiver and he has even lined up some at running back. His flexibility should open up options for first-year offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.

What's the risk: Cobb, who turns 29 in August, has missed games in each of the past three seasons, including just nine in 2018 because of a late-season concussion and hamstring pull. With the two free-agent signings of a year ago, Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson, Prescott needed time to get on the same page and it never really clicked. The hope is a full offseason of work with Cobb will help get both players on the same page quickly. From a cost perspective, however, there is little risk, which is how the Cowboys like to work in free agency.


Tavon Austin, wide receiver

The Cowboys have signed Austin to a one-year deal, with a base salary of $1 million and $500,000 guaranteed. Here's a closer look at Austin, who was traded to the Cowboys last year from the Los Angeles Rams.

What it means: The Cowboys knew they needed to do something with the departure of Beasley to the Buffalo Bills but this should not be viewed as a one-for-one swap. Austin's first season with the Cowboys was a disappointment in part because of a groin injury. He caught only nine passes and scored two touchdowns. He has the speed and versatility to play multiple roles on offense and affect the return game, if healthy. His speed could help the Cowboys design more things for Amari Cooper or Michael Gallup with first-year coordinator Kellen Moore.

What's the risk: The only real risk is the threat of injury. While he missed only five games in his first five seasons with the Rams, he was bothered by a wrist injury. Last season, he missed nine games with a groin injury. That it is a one-year deal speaks to Austin's hope he can return to the multi-tool player who can score from anywhere on the field and cash in potentially in 2020. This signing does not take the Cowboys out of selecting a wide receiver in the draft, but it also provides them some cover if they don't taken one either.


Jamize Olawale, fullback

The Cowboys have signed Olawale to a three-year deal. Here's a closer look at the fullback who spent last season with Dallas after being acquired in a trade from the Oakland Raiders:

What it means: Olawale, 29, played in every game last season but did not have a carry and caught just two passes. He dropped a touchdown pass against the Indianapolis Colts. He did lead the Cowboys in special teams tackles with 13. With new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, perhaps Olawale could get more work, but Ezekiel Elliott has operated just fine without a lead blocker.

What's the risk: There really isn't a risk here, although Cowboys fans surely want more splash in free agency than keeping a fullback. Olawale is a quiet, solid professional. The Cowboys like to have the option of a fullback available in short-yardage and goal-line situations. He is normally sure-handed -- despite his drop against the Colts -- and while not a blow-the-opposition-up type of fullback, he is effective enough as a blocker.


Cameron Fleming, offensive tackle

The Cowboys signed Fleming to a two-year deal that could be worth as much as $8.5 million, including a signing bonus of $1.5 million. Here's a closer look at Fleming, who spent last season with the Cowboys after being signed as a free agent from the New England Patriots:

What it means: In keeping Fleming, the Cowboys have some veteran insurance should something happen to Tyron Smith, who has missed games in each of the past three seasons, or La'el Collins. In 2017, the Cowboys took a dive when Chaz Green was called in to replace Smith and they suffered for it up front. Fleming is smart and understands the tricks to get by with 23 starts to his credit.

What's the risk: Like the Jamize Olawale signing, there is no real risk. The signing does not prevent the Cowboys from looking at a tackle in the draft. He is not blocking the progress of a potential future starter. He turns 27 in September, so they are not paying for an aging player either. There will be times where speed rushers will give him some trouble, but he knows how to work around some limitations.


Christian Covington, defensive tackle

The Cowboys have signed Covington to a one-year deal, including a base salary of $1 million and a signing bonus of $500,000. Here's a closer look at Covington, who spent the past four seasons with the Houston Texans after being drafted in the sixth round out of Rice in 2015:

What it means: The Cowboys want to rotate their defensive line as much as possible under Rod Marinelli to keep them fresh to get up the field. Covington, 6-3, 300 pounds, can play both interior spots but might be more suited to play nose tackle. He had a career-high 3.5 sacks in 2018. Maliek Collins led the Cowboys' interior linemen with three sacks last season. He has 7.5 sacks for his career. At times last season, the Cowboys were caught short -- and light -- on the interior because of injuries. Covington helps shore up their defensive tackle spot.

What's the risk: Little to none. It is a one-year deal. The Cowboys hope Covington can fall in line with the under-the-radar success stories they have had on the defensive line over the years in George Selvie, Terrell McClain, David Irving, Jeremy Mince and Antwaun Woods. While Covington missed nine games in 2017 with a torn biceps, he does not turn 26 until October.


Kerry Hyder, defensive lineman

The Cowboys signed Hyder to a one-year deal, worth a maximum value worth up to $1.5 million (including incentives and bonuses). Here's a closer look at Hyder, who spent the previous three seasons with the Detroit Lions.

What it means: Like the Christian Covington signing last week, the Cowboys want to have as much depth as possible on the line with how coordinator Rod Marinelli likes to rotate his players. The Cowboys liked Hyder when he was coming out for the 2015 draft and had him in for a pre-draft visit. He can play multiple spots on the line and had an 8-sack season in 2016. A torn Achilles cost him the 2017 season and he had 1 sack in seven games last season. With Randy Gregory suspended indefinitely, Taco Charlton returning from shoulder surgery and the status of DeMarcus Lawrence, who has been given the franchise tag, the Cowboys are building depth at a key spot with Hyder being able to play both end spots as well as the under tackle position.

What's the risk: Given that it is just a one-year commitment, there really isn't any risk. Plus, he is two seasons removed from the torn Achilles. He is likely hoping Marinelli can do for him what the coach did for George Selvie and Terrell McClain in building up a solid resume to hit the market in 2020. The signing should not affect the Cowboys' ability to gain a 2020 compensatory pick for losing Beasley.