The 40-year-old free agent Cowboys should pursue

Father Time is undefeated. Whether a working stiff lacing up for rec league ball or a pro athlete suiting up in the bright light lights of prime time, at some point age makes its presence felt. For NFL players, age sneaks up fast. The ultra-physical nature of the sport works in direct contrast to physical longevity or long-term well-being. Being on the wrong side of 30 is bad in the NFL. Being just a month away from 40? Madness.

Every once in a while, a savvy quarterback or kicker figures out how to avoid the big hits and unnecessary abuse and survive to age 40, but more often than not, the decline is too severe and the abuse too compounded for these players to continue on. It’s what makes Marcedes Lewis such a sight to behold and possibly even an appealing target for the Cowboys.

Born during Ronald Reagan’s first term as president, Lewis is one of the oldest active position players in the NFL today. The UCLA tight end was drafted in the first round of the 2006 draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. At 6-foot-6, 265-pounds, he quickly established himself as one of the most physically imposing TEs in the NFL. He went on to hone his skills as a blocker, carving out a stellar career as one of the best run-blocking TEs in the league.

He’s also impervious to age.

Maybe not impervious, but in May, Lewis will turn 40, and in his own words has his sights set on a 19th NFL season.

“I want to play,” Lewis said in January. “I knew I wanted to play a month ago. My energy, my mind for it, my film.”

Playing for Jacksonville, Green Bay, and Chicago, Lewis has thrived in a number of systems. While he hasn’t dropped jaws with his receiving numbers, he’s made his presence felt with his contributions in the running game.

If he’s signed by someone in 2024, it’s safe to say it will be as a blocking specialist in a backup role.

The Cowboys are understandably high on Jake Ferguson as he enters his third season. Just as they are optimistic about Luke Schoonmaker, who’s entering his second season.

But Lewis fills a niche. He’s a blocker and doesn’t pretend to much more than that. He hasn’t had a 25-reception season since 2013 so it’s safe to say he’s not going to step on Ferguson’s toes. If anything, he’ll challenge Schoonmaker who is recovering from offseason surgery.

Schoonmaker struggled as a blocker his rookie season and overall failed to make the impact the Cowboys were hoping for when they made him their second-round pick. Having Lewis on the roster won’t just insulate Dallas from Schoonmaker’s injury and development, it will elevate their overall effectiveness running the ball.

Graded as the fifth highest performing TE in 2023, Lewis showed he still has plenty left in the tank these days. He has consistently graded as a top tier blocker year after year, all while working in a part-time role the last half-decade.

In Dallas he would improve the Cowboys standard run offense as well as their short yardage and three-TE sets. And if needs be, he can still catch too.

At age 40, Lewis is unlikely to have delusions of grandeur, demanding a bigger role on offense than what Dallas needs. He’s the perfect solution to the Cowboys TE situation and will elevate a part of the game in which the Cowboys have been struggling.

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Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire