Cowboys host former 1st-round pass rusher on free agency visit Saturday

Potential is a dangerous word in the world of professional sport. The label only truly has a positive connotation during a player’s first, maybe second season. After that, being labeled as having potential means an unreached ceiling, expectations unmet. It means high production has been flashed but unrealized. Takkarist McKinley has potential, but he’s a long way from the expectations that surrounded him as a 2017 first-round pick of Dan Quinn and the Atlanta Falcons.

And now, it looks like the Cowboys may try to rekindle that potential, and that connection if McKinley is recovered from an achilles injury he suffered while playing with Cleveland last season. The Browns were the third club McKinley played for but fifth he was associated with after failed physicals following waiver claims by Cincinnati and San Francisco in 2020 before landing with the Raiders. And now the Cowboys have brought him in for a free agent visit as the club works in training camp in Oxnard, CA.

McKinley has 20 career sacks in 60 games, a total that would place him third on the Cowboys’ roster behind DeMarcus Lawrence (48.5) and the first DE reclamation project of 2022, Dante Fowler, Jr. (35). Fowler also worked under Quinn and is back for a second go-round to try and reinvigorate his career.

Fowler is expected to compete for a starting role opposite Lawrence with Dorance Armstrong and possibly second-round rookie Sam Williams. McKinley would certainly be a candidate for a rotation spot along with Tarell Basham, if the sides are able to work out an agreement.

McKinley was picked by the Falcons in the first round of the 2017 draft, two spots before the Cowboys drafted Taco Charlton. The team was heavily interested in McKinley at the time, so combined with Quinn now being the Dallas defensive coordinator, it makes sense the two sides would talk if the player is nearing readiness to return to the field.

Last season, Dallas signed free agent safeties Damontae Kazee and Malik Hooker as they were coming back from achilles injuries. Kazee started 15 of his 17 games with the Cowboys but it was Hooker who received a second contract with Dallas, latching on for another two years.

According to Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News, McKinley did not work out with the club, but rather underwent a physical and met with the staff.


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Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire