With Frederick Retiring, Who's Cowboys 'Next Man Up'?

Mike Fisher
March 25, 2020 - 9:17 am
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FRISCO (105.3 The Fan) - Can a franchise ever really be fully prepared for a team leader, a five-time Pro Bowler and a guy who just turned 29 to retire?

Emotionally, no. Roster-wise? The Dallas Cowboys are doing the best they can.

When Frederick announced on Monday he'd be retiring from the NFL, the proper word for the response in Cowboys Nation was "shock.'' Teammates had kept secret his contemplation of this idea, and at the end of the year, at the Pro Bowl in Orlando, he talked about how excited he was to play under new coach Mike McCarthy, with whom he shares Wisconsin ties.

But Frederick also juggled two other notions: 1) He'd proven something to himself, as a man, as a competitor, by overcoming the Guillain-Barre syndrome that robbed him or his 2018 season, as he came back to play in 2019, and 2) His level of play in 2019, Pro Bowl season though it was, wasn't high enough for him.

The illness continued to rob him in some ways. And yes, the Cowboys as an organization knew that, too.

Which is why alongside owner Jerry Jones' prepared statement, there is some level of preparedness on the roster as well.

The contingency plan includes a reliable option in backup interior lineman Joe Looney, who subbed for Frederick in 2018 and handled himself adequately. But it also includes a higher-ceiling option in second-year interior lineman Connor McGovern, the team's third-round pick in 2019 who the team says it had graded as a much higher-pick player.

McGovern was basically a "red-shirt'' in his rookie season due to a torn pectoral muscle sustained before to the start of the season.

There are other guys around here who can play center. Adam Redmond is under contract but is seen as a backup. Right guard Zack Martin can do it, but he's an emergency option; there's no reason to move him from his dominant spot. Left guard Connor Williams might be able to do it, too, but Dallas wants him to win the job he's got.

It's been my idea to bring back Ron Leary to let him play left guard, and then letting the kids fight it out elsewhere. In talking to Leary, he likes the idea. But the Cowboys haven't called on him.

So it's Looney vs. McGovern, truly about as decent a plan as a team can have when a player the caliber of Travis Frederick retires early ... but yet, gauging his own words, just in time.