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Dallas Cowboys declining fifth-year possibility on LB Leighton Vander Esch, agent says

FRISCO, Texas — The Dallas Cowboys won’t decide up Leighton Vander Esch’s fifth-year possibility for 2022, in response to his agent, Ron Slavin, which can make the 2018 first-round decide an unrestricted free agent after the upcoming season.

Vander Esch’s harm historical past is the most important cause. He missed 13 video games over the previous two seasons, beginning with a neck harm that required surgical procedure in 2019 and price him seven video games. He missed six video games in 2020 due to a damaged collarbone. If the Cowboys had picked up the choice, the $9.1 million would have been absolutely assured.

Earlier than formally deciding to say no the choice, govt vice chairman Stephen Jones stated throughout draft weekend that the crew would nonetheless prefer to maintain Vander Esch past 2021 if it didn’t add the fifth yr, however it’ll rely on how he performs.

Vander Esch’s greatest season got here as a rookie, when he was named to the Professional Bowl after the Cowboys chosen him No. 19 total. He had a franchise-rookie-record 176 tackles in 2018, together with 19 towards the Philadelphia Eagles. He additionally had 5 quarterback pressures, six move breakups and two interceptions.

Some groups had been involved about his well being popping out of Boise State, however the Cowboys took the prospect. Nevertheless, he injured his neck in an ungainly collision with a teammate on a deal with in 2019 and had surgical procedure to alleviate a nerve situation. Then in final season’s opener, he suffered a damaged collarbone within the first quarter.

The Cowboys have linebacker Jaylon Smith below contract via 2025, however they will get out of his deal from a salary-cap perspective with out a lot of a difficulty. On this yr’s NFL draft, the Cowboys chosen linebacker Micah Parsons within the first spherical, however they imagine his versatility will enable them to make use of all three gamers on the similar time. The Cowboys additionally drafted LSU linebacker Jabril Cox within the fourth spherical.

Vander Esch is the third first-round decide to not have his possibility picked up by the Cowboys for the reason that rookie pay system was put in place. Morris Claiborne, the 2012 first-round decide, signed a one-year cope with the Cowboys after the 2015 season, and 2017 first-rounder Taco Charlton was launched in 2019.

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