Benson Mayowa may have Chris Clemons-type upside

IRVING, Texas -- Of the Dallas Cowboys' free-agent signings so far, Benson Mayowa is the biggest mystery.

He has just two sacks in his first three seasons and he is hardly a household name. But senior director of college and pro personnel Will McClay knows him well and the Cowboys are banking on McClay’s track record of finding under-the-radar help in the past with Mayowa.

The Cowboys weren’t going to get into the high-stakes games in free agency, so Olivier Vernon was out. They had never before ventured into restricted free agency, but they were able to land Mayowa after the Oakland Raiders declined to match the three-year, $8.25 million deal Dallas gave Mayowa. Because he was an undrafted free agent in 2013 and was given the lowest tender, the Cowboys do not owe any compensation.

To learn more about Mayowa, let’s turn to NFL Nation reporter Paul Gutierrez for some help.

Todd Archer: I guess I could be a smart guy and say, "who is he?" But I’ll keep it civil. Cowboys don’t know much about him. Is there a player you can compare him to?

Paul Gutierrez: Always nice to keep it civil, and with that, Mayowa is an undersized situational pass-rusher at 6-foot-3, 236 pounds. A lot of hustle and energy but not particularly imposing. A nice piece to the puzzle, but not necessarily the biggest piece. He has only two sacks in 30 career games. It’s hard to say he resembles an accomplished pass-rusher but his skill set is similar to that of 13-year veteran Chris Clemons, who has 69 career sacks. If the Cowboys get that kind of production and longevity out of Mayowa, I think they’d be more than happy with it.

Archer: Was this a case of the Raiders not wanting to pay him $8.25 million when they already have Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin?

Gutierrez: You could say that. You could also say the minute the Raiders acquired Irvin, who will be used more as a pass-rusher than he was in Seattle, Mayowa became expendable. Having to pay him $8.25 million to retain his two career sacks was just a bit too steep. Then there’s this: The Raiders also have plans on re-signing Aldon Smith, whose suspension is not up until November. That would have made Mayowa essentially a fourth wheel on a tricycle.