There’s nothing the Dallas Cowboys’ current regime loves more than drafting and eventually re-signing their homegrown talent.
While roster continuity is paramount to a winning culture, the front office’s hesitancy – or sheer unwillingness – to sign outside free agents unless those players come at the perfect price has drawn the ire of fans.
When it comes to the linebacker position, it wasn’t all that surprising to see Leighton Vander Esch return. The former first-round pick’s ceiling has obviously been hindered by the litany of injuries he’s suffered in his career, but he (when healthy) can be a stable presence in the second level of the defense.
Given Vander Esch only signed for up to $3 million, Cowboys fans immediately thought the team would still look to add to the position. Bobby Wagner is the dream, but this feels like yet another case of a high-profile free agent using Dallas as leverage to sign a big contract.
While there are still starting-caliber talents braving free agency, we get the sense that Dallas will regret letting Kyzir White sign with the Eagles. Signed for just $5 million over one year, the Cowboys should be kicking themselves for not being in on the former Chargers linebacker.
The Cowboys should’ve been in on free agent LB Kyzir White.
It pains us to admit it, but this is a job well done by Howie Roseman and the Eagles’ organization. Coming off a career year, Pro Football Focus had projected White, whom they ranked as the eighth-best free agent linebacker this offseason, to sign for a guaranteed sum of $8 million. The Eagles getting him for $5 million feels like a steal.
A former safety in college at West Virginia, White made the transition to a full-time linebacker role with the Chargers last season and to say he exceeded expectations would be an understatement.
Across 17 games, White compiled 144 combined tackles, the eighth-most of any linebacker in the league. He added seven tackles for loss, two interceptions, four QB hits, three passes defended and two forced fumbles.
White is far from a finished product, but he’s reliable against the run and has logged four straight seasons with coverage grades above 60.0, per PFF. Pretty impressive for an off-ball linebacker in today’s NFL.
Simply put, White is an up-and-coming young linebacker and his freakish athleticism would’ve been a dream pairing alongside Vander Esch and Micah Parsons. His presence would also have allowed Parsons more freedom to get busy as a pass rusher, where he obviously excels.
The good news is free agency is far from over and the draft is right around the corner, so the Cowboys can still rectify this miss. For just $5 million, though, White feels like the one that got away for the front office.
After all, Dallas’ LB corps behind Parsons and Vander Esch consists of Luke Gifford, who’s logged just 33 defensive snaps in his three-year career, and Jabril Cox, who suffered a torn ACL just seven games into his rookie season in 2021.
Reinforcements better be on the way.