After Sean Lee went down with an ACL injury last week in OTAs, there were reports that the Dallas Cowboys could sign a few players to man the middle linebacker position. The three most popular options were Brian Urlacher, Jonathan Vilma, and Pat Angerer. At a time, these three players were blue-chip talents for their positions. But each player has had their fair share of injuries. While Angerer still has years left in him, Urlacher and Vilma, in particular, are both old and have seen their better days.
The main problem I have with signing one of these is free agents is that their health is not guaranteed. Urlacher fell out of the league because of a knee injury and a reoccurring hamstring injury. Vilma has also had his share of knee injuries, as he has gotten his knees scoped multiple times. Angerer has had knee problems dating back to his days at Iowa.
DeVonte Holloman, Anthony Hitchens, and Will Smith will all have golden opportunities in front of them because of Lee’s injury. While Holloman and Hitchens have outside linebacker backgrounds, both could very well play inside if needed. In last year’s Week 17 against the Philadelphia Eagles, Holloman had over 15 tackles at the MIKE linebacker position. Hitchens, despite playing weakside in college, could play inside because of his ability to find the football.
Signing a stopgap in free agency would be dumb because it would get in the way of a young player’s opportunity to make a name for themselves. Holloman and Hitchens have a ton of potential if they get the necessary field time. Both will have significant playing time in 2014, but one of them should definitely be starting at the middle linebacker position when the season starts.