The second time was the charm for Jason Garrett. After parting ways with the Dallas Cowboys in 2020, Garrett immediately took on the role of offensive coordinator for the New York Giants and went to work poaching what he could from North Texas. One of his attempts was for starting center Joe Looney, whom Big Blue courted heavily in free agency before the veteran offensive lineman decided to stay put with the Cowboys. Things are much different in 2021, however, because the Cowboys have moved on to second-year talent Tyler Biadasz as the presumptive starter and, as such, Looney was without an NFL home to this point.
He’s now found one in New York, signing a deal with the Giants — the team confirmed — one year after turning down their first offer. The 30-year-old joins running back Alfred Morris as yet another former Cowboy who has joined the Giants in July, with Morris reportedly agreeing to rejoin the club after he followed Garrett in 2020.
“This time of year, we’re doing a lot of workouts to see who’s available,” said Judge of adding Looney to the roster, via Art Stapleton of USA Today. “We thought it was a good opportunity to bring in some linemen. This guy’s got experience in the league, center/guard flex. Those older guys with flex are valuable.”
Adding Looney to the roster instantly improves depth on the interior of the offensive line. He made a name for himself in Dallas with an excellent ability to move from left guard to center to right guard, in varying capacities, and to start at either of the three positions when called upon.
Looney is a former fourth-round pick of the San Francisco 49ers (2017) who also spent time with the Tennessee Titans before joining the Cowboys in 2016, where he spent his last four NFL seasons. In the wake of news regarding Travis Frederick’s diagnosis of Guillain-Barre Syndrome in 2018, Looney was thrust into the role of full-time starting center and proved more than capable. His production that season primed him for what was eventually Frederick’s retirement from the NFL in 2020, but bouts with injury dampened last season for him (though still available for 13 games and having previously not missed a single game since 2015).
In his absence, it was Biadasz stepping in and impressing as a rookie, to the point where head coach Mike McCarthy deemed it time to pass him the mantle for the future, while also creating competition at the spot by giving camp reps at center to starting left guard Connor Williams as well.
The plan left Looney without a fit in Dallas, a place he’s become a fan-favorite for his bubbly personality and diehard work ethic, and both of those things should serve him well for a Giants team that recently dodged a bullet with news on guard Shane Lemieux; but one that still has question marks in how they’ll consistently protect quarterback Daniel Jones in what will be the most pivotal year of his young NFL career.