After a summer of free agency links, it appears as if the Dallas Cowboys are actively looking to add to the team before training camp.
Dallas has been linked to free agents on both sides of the ball, with Anthony Barr being considered a target at linebacker and WR Julio Jones also being linked to the Cowboys. A move for either player hasn’t materialized, but the team is in the free agency market based on recent reports.
This past week, Heavy covered that the Cowboys worked out two receivers. Now, Sports Illustrated’s Mike Fisher is reporting that one of those players is Maurice Alexander.
The reason why Alexander is significant is his unorthodox background. He was initially a quarterback when he started his college career at Florida International, but switched to receiver during his redshirt junior season.
Alexander hasn’t made a mark in the NFL, but his recent exploits for the Philadelphia Stars in the USFL have put him on the map as a punt returner.
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After leading Booker T. Washington High School (FL) to a state championship as a quarterback, Alexander chose FIU for his college career. However, it became clear that the Florida City native wasn’t an ideal option at quarterback for the school.
According to Sports Reference, Alexander completed 72 of 130 pass attempts while at FIU, amassing 849 yards and throwing two touchdowns to eight interceptions. Obviously, Alexander struggled in his opportunities at quarterback, but his swap to receiver opened up a whole new path.
In his first season playing receiver in 2018, Alexander caught 40 receptions for 479 yards and five touchdowns. A season-ending injury cut his final season with FIU short in 2019, but he still posted 25 catches for 298 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Three years after his final season in University Park, Alexander was selected by the Philadelphia Stars in the 17th round of the 2022 USFL draft. As Fisher mentioned, Alexander built a valuable niche role as a kick returner and led the league in kick return yards with 707.
Averaging 31.1 yards per kick return and 12.6 yards per punt return was an impressive feat, and that toolset is something the Cowboys desperately need right now. Plus, Alexander did contribute as an actual receiver for the Stars, totaling 234 receiving yards and catching two touchdowns.
While it remains to be seen if Alexander is Dallas’ next piece on special teams, the Cowboys did ensure there would be a positional battle at kicker by signing Lirim Hajrullahu.
Hajrullahu is a familiar name for Cowboys fans, being signed and released twice by Dallas in the 2021 season. The Kosovo-born kicker made his proper NFL debut with the Cowboys, kicking five extra points in a 41-3 demolition of the Atlanta Falcons.
Now, Hajrullahu is back and set to compete with undrafted free agent kicker Jonathan Garibay. Garibay went undrafted in this year’s draft a standout season at Texas Tech, where he made two game-winning field goals for the Red Raiders.
It may be mid-July, but it appears as if the Cowboys special teams unit is still very much a work in progress.