Jayon Brown, LB
Previous Team: Tennessee Titans
Since signing a linebacker worked so well last year, I am totally recommending the Dallas Cowboys to sign another one this free agency. Only this linebacker actually played linebacker the last four seasons of his career. The former UCLA Bruin could be looking for a new home after a middling year in Tennessee on a one-year, prove-it deal.
Parsons proved last year that potential deficiencies in mental processing could be overcome with elite athleticism. Brown isn’t necessarily elite in this regard, but he is more athletic than Keanu Neal and likely more athletic than Leighton Vander Esch in his current state. (In all fairness, Vander Esch played fairly well down the stretch)
Even with the Dallas Cowboys opting for a 4-2-5 nickel formation, the Cowboys felt fairly thin at linebacker all last season. What started with a group of Micah Parsons, Keanu Neal, Leighton Vander Esch, Jabrill Cox, and Jaylon Smith turned into Micah Parsons, Leighton Vander Esch, and the occasional Luke Gifford sighting. Smith got released, Cox tore his ACL, and Neal got Covid and didn’t play well enough to replace the Boise product.
The Cowboys need to stash some talent and there is a good chance they reach into free agency to grab someone. Enter Jayon Brown! He wasn’t as productive his last two years in Tennessee, but his experience with playing in a two-gapping run-stopping defense could be valuable for a defense that was average at stopping the run last season.
Brown also provides pass-rushing ability recording 9.5 sacks over his career. He hasn’t recorded a sack in two seasons and hasn’t had more than one sack in four seasons, but would you rather Brown rush the passer off the edge or Leighton Vander Esch? It’s not a hard question to answer.
Brown fits Quinn’s description of wanting fast, physical second-level defenders. Without putting too much weight into coaching, playing in a one-gap defense could help Brown read/react better; then the athleticism speaks for itself.
Compared to other years, this offseason will see a bunch of veterans of marginal quality with lower price tags. Bargain shopping this season will be as hard a task as ever, which makes it poetic that the Dallas Cowboys front office continues to stick by their guns at the process that has paid little dividends thus far. This should be fun next three months…