Cowboys believe key defensive piece worth re-signing

Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones says that this defensive player has done enough to warrant a new deal with the team.

The Dallas Cowboys have some decisions to make this offseason in terms of their roster. They have already made changes to their coaching staff, which notably saw the departure of offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. But, they have to focus on impending free agents and those who may be cut candidates. Tight end Dalton Schultz is not expected to be tagged and could enter unrestricted free agency alongside running back Tony Pollard. Not to mention that running back Ezekiel Elliott could be cut if both sides cannot agree on a contract restructure.

When it comes to the defensive side of the ball, there is one player that the Cowboys are openly considering bringing back.

While speaking with the media on Wednesday, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said that linebacker Leighton Vander Esch “absolutely” did enough to warrant a new contract with the team. However, Jones does bring up how much it depends on “the economics.” Jones comments come courtesy of the Dallas Morning News’ Michael Gehlken.

Cowboys believes Leighton Vander Esch has done enough to be re-signed

Vander Esch made an immediate impact in his rookie campaign after the Cowboys selected him in the first-round of the 2018 NFL Draft out of Boise State. Vander Esch missed a majority of the 2019 season due to a nerve issue in his neck. He became an unrestricted free agent after the 2021 season after the team declined to pick up his fifth-year option. But, he re-signed on a one-year, $2 million deal.

This season, Vander Esch played in 14 games, missing the final three games due to a shoulder injury. In that span, Vander Esch recorded 90 combined tackles (54 solo, 36 assisted), four tackles for loss, one quarterback hit, one sack, one pass defended, and one forced fumble. In coverage, Vander Esch allowed 24 receptions for 214 yards on 31 targets, per Pro Football Reference.

The Cowboys have 21 players hitting free agency (19 unrestricted, two restricted), but are currently $7.5 million over the salary cap threshold as of this writing. The team has some important decisions to make as to how they will approach free agency and how they will get under the salary cap threshold to make some moves.

While Jones said he would like to bring Vander Esch back, it will depend on the money.

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