Taco Charlton’s time might be now or never with Cowboys

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The Cowboys traded for Robert Quinn after the NFL suspended Randy Gregory indefinitely. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has said Gregory’s status didn’t affect the Cowboys’ pursuit of Quinn.

Perhaps the team’s acquisition of Quinn says more about where Taco Charlton is.

The former first-round draft pick had a shoulder injury that required offseason surgery, perhaps partly explaining why he didn’t see much action late last season. He played in 11 games with seven starts, but didn’t start a game in the final nine weeks and appeared in only three of the last eight regular-season games.

He didn’t do much with his early season chances, either, getting one sack, two quarterback hits and 10 tackles in his seven starts.

Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones has called this a “big year” for Charlton. Maybe it’s more like make-or-break for the 28th overall pick of the 2017 draft.

“I’m expecting Taco to strap on his pads, put on his helmet and go out there and compete every day to prove that he belongs on this roster,” Cowboys vice president of player personnel Will McClay said on 133.3 ESPN, via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. “The injury and all those things, he’s going to have to overcome that and be available. But I expect Taco to put his best foot forward and battle and compete for a spot. But you know what? We’re not going to hold the train for anybody. If you want to compete and roll down with us, here it is. Everybody is going to have that opportunity. I expect Taco to be a much better player and a much more productive player. He was turning the corner last year. Injuries happen, all that other stuff. I expect him to go and battle and compete, and if him or anybody else isn’t willing to compete, hopefully we have enough stuff there to keep us strong throughout the process.”

Charlton is the only one of the Cowboys’ past six first-round draft picks not to have made the Pro Bowl.

In 27 games, he has four sacks.