Cowboys Pinpoint DL Adrian Clayborn; Will They Still Draft Pass-Rusher?

Adrian Clayborn is among the Cowboys' pinpointed guys in free agency, sources tell CHQ. And if he's as good as ex-Falcons All-Pro Chuck Smith says he is? Dallas is onto something here.

Last spring, Adrian Clayborn was signed to a one-year deal in Atlanta, the belief about the former first-round pick being that he would revitalize his career with the Falcons as he was coming off knee and bicep injuries while in Tampa.

Fast-forward to a year later. The career is revitalized. The Cowboys like former first-rounders who are reclamation projects who don't come at Tier-1 prices ... and they like Clayborn, who sources tell CHQ has already been contacted with the goal being an agreement with Dallas.

Falcons former All-Pro pass-rusher Chuck Smith, who trains Clayborn, tells CHQ: "He's dynamic. He'll be the best pass-rusher on Dallas' roster. He'll get you eight or nine sacks.''

Atlanta initally signed him as an edge-rusher, and his speed at 6-3, 280 allows him to do that. But Atlanta also got mileage out of him on the inside, especially on passing downs. In the end, he totaled three sacks -- not a huge total and yet the Falcons' team-lead in that department. (Clayborn also recorded 15 QB hits.)

There is "position flex'' here and that is key to Dallas' defensive philosophy. Clayborn, 27, may do some of the things here that Jason Hatcher and Jeremy Mincey have done. (Those two are also free, as Hatcher told us in an exclusive visit on Monday morning.) 


In theory, this coming signing frees Dallas from having to pick "need'' in the draft. If a Bosa, say, was "tied'' with a Jalen Ramsey in the Cowboys' grading, Clayborn may have just broken that tie. Meanwhile, the Cowboys are in the midst of other moves and other talks, many of them detailed here in Cowboys Premium. Also worth noting: Our scoop on Dallas' talks with Philly regarding a trade to bring DeMarco Murray back here (before the Titans closed a swap, and that story is coming) and Dallas' tendering of offers to RFAs Ron Leary and Jeff Heath (which went down exactly as we wrote about it two months ago, here.)

The Falcons almost certainly view Clayborn as a "situational guy'' and didn't want to overpay.  The Cowboys feel the same way ... and here, believe they will not overpay. (Something they will likely have to do to be involved with Mario Williams or Charles Johnson.) Dallas needs to find more sacks from somewhere. This deal - should it be sealed due to go official no earlier than Wednesday, the opening of NFL free-agent signings -- will be their start.


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