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Thursday, May 16, 2013
Anthony Hargrove adds defensive line depth

By Calvin Watkins

The Thursday signing of Anthony Hargrove to a one-year deal adds depth to the Dallas Cowboys' defensive line, but not youth.

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Currently, three of the four projected starting linemen are at least 30, and defensive end Anthony Spencer is 29.

Hargrove turns 30 in July.

Where's the youth?

The Cowboys didn't address the defensive line in the draft but did so in free agency with the signing of Hargrove.

The backups on the Cowboys' roster consist of young players such as Tyrone Crawford, Sean Lissemore, Rob Callaway and Kyle Wilber. Those are young players who could become starters in 2014.

Jason Hatcher is in the final year of his contract, and he turns 31 in July.

Spencer, who doesn't turn 30 until next January, is playing on the franchise tag and talks have slowed down regarding a new deal. Hatcher and Spencer could play elsewhere in 2014.

As for Jay Ratliff, the defensive tackle who will battle centers and guards this season, he will turn 32 in August. Do you remember the man Ratliff replaced? Jason Ferguson was 32 when he suffered an arm injury early in the 2007 season, opening the door for Ratliff to become the full-time starter. Health and age dooms NFL players all the time.

Ratliff is coming off an injury-filled 2012 season and it's assumed this could be his last season with the Cowboys given his age and how his health betrayed him last season.

DeMarcus Ware isn't going anywhere. Ware, however, turns 31 in July and is coming back from shoulder surgery and a dislocated elbow.

Age isn't on the Cowboys' side when it comes to the defensive line. While it's good to have Hargrove provide depth as someone who can play end and tackle in the 4-3, the future is uncertain for this position.

Based on the offseason moves by the Cowboys, the defensive line is geared for the here and now, not for the future. The Cowboys had a chance to address the defensive line in the draft but expressed support for what they currently have.

That's fine, but at some point youth must take over.