Dwight Freeney not option for Cowboys yet, might be too late

IRVING, Texas -- Pass rush remains the Dallas Cowboys' biggest need. It will be that way until the 2016 season starts.

Veteran defensive end Dwight Freeney, owner of 119.5 career sacks, is available. The Cincinnati Bengals and Atlanta Falcons have shown interest in Freeney, but the Cowboys are staying out of it.

"I think it's a little early for us,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “We kind of like our young guys right now. Obviously Dwight has had an amazing career. Nothing to say but great things about Dwight with what he's accomplished in this league, but we all know this is a younger man's game. But I do think what he showed last year he was able to help a playoff team. So, all those things will be things that we keep our eyes on. But I don't think we're ready to make any move on any veteran that is available at this point."

Freeney, who is 36, like starting quarterback Tony Romo, had eight sacks in 11 games last season for the Arizona Cardinals. He showed he could still provide pass rush even in limited snaps, and without the benefit of an offseason program or training camp.

The nine defensive ends listed on the Cowboys’ roster have 10.5 career sacks between them. Freeney had 10.5 sacks or more by himself in six seasons. He had more than 10.5 sacks five times.

Of those 10.5 sacks by the Cowboys’ current defensive ends, eight belong to DeMarcus Lawrence, and he is facing a potential four-game suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. (Jones said he has not heard when the league will make an announcement after Lawrence has appealed.) Benson Mayowa has two. David Irving has one.

Jack Crawford is listed as a defensive tackle but has played some end. He has six career sacks, with four coming last season. Tyrone Crawford could slide out to defensive end as well. He has eight career sacks. That’s 25 sacks among those who could play the position this season.

Freeney had 24 sacks in his first two seasons.

Teams want to see what they have in younger players all the time. It makes perfect sense. It’s also cost-effective. For the Cowboys, it’s clear they are banking on the offense to be their best defense. The more they score and control the ball, the easier it will be for the defense.

Freeney apparently can fall out of bed and get eight sacks.

That’s something the Cowboys could use.