Bargains for the Dallas Cowboys: Leighton Vander Esch, LB
After struggling in his second and third seasons, Leighton Vander Esch has quietly had two excellent seasons in Dallas. The former first round pick has digested Dan Quinn’s playbook and executed his assignments with expert precision.
Quinn’s heavy usage of big nickel personnel (one that uses an extra safety) makes linebacker a devalued position in Dallas. The Cowboys don’t need to dedicate loads of resources to build out the depth and are allowed to go shallow as long as good players populate the highest ranks.
Leighton Vander Esch can be that player.
LVE is one of the best linebackers in the game. The only problem is he has a troublesome preexisting neck injury that could snuff out a season, even a career, in a single play.
Late in the 2022, many feared the worst when LVE exited with what appeared to be neck injury. Later it was revealed it was pinched nerve/stinger in his shoulder and the star linebacker would be able to recover in a few weeks’ time. The situation served as reminder to all – things could end in an instant and even though LVE is extremely valuable, he’s also walking on thin ice.
While Leighton Vander Esch won’t come cheap, his well-known health situation ensure he’s come below what his market value otherwise should be. The Dallas Cowboys could use this in their bargaining and if they can protect themselves from a reoccurrence of serious injury, they could score a bargain.