5 Cowboys Who Should Be Cut Before Free Agency Opens

The Dallas Cowboys need to cut these players to open up enough cap space to be players in free agency.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
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Leighton Vander Esch, LB

This is extremely disappointing for both Vander Esch and Cowboys fans. The Pro Bowl linebacker suffered yet another neck injury in 2023, jeopardizing his playing career and leaving a massive hole at linebacker for the Cowboys.

Dallas missed their former first-round pick immensely for the rest of the season and it's still unclear whether Vander Esch will be able to play next season, or ever again for that matter.

The Cowboys would certainly love to have the physical, dominant presence of the Boise State product in their defensive line, but that seems unlikely to happen. Even if he does return, it would presumably be on a lower, incentive-based salary.

Vander Esch is entering the second year of the two-year extension he signed last offseason after playing the healthiest two-season stretch of his career. Only five games into his extension, he suffered the season-ending injury. Unfortunately, this makes him a prime cut candidate, unless he chooses to retire.

If they were to cut him, the Cowboys would save $2.25 million, half of Vander Esch's salary. Every bit of this will be needed as Dallas desperately will look to add a high-level linebacker to their rotation.