When the Cowboys’ preferred cornerbacks were off the board, they pivoted to Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons. Despite the speculation, Cowboys EVP Stephen Jones says that the pick doesn’t necessarily rule out Leighton Vander Esch beyond 2021.
“I don’t think it affects it,” Jones said (via the Cowboys’ website). “We’ll make a decision on Leighton — we’ll make that decision when the time comes. We’ve got some discussions to have on that, period.”
The Cowboys have a few more days — and six more rounds of the draft — before they have to make their call on LVE’s fifth-year option. The Cowboys can extend the linebacker’s contract for an extra year at a rate of $9.145MM in 2022. Of course, that add-on would be fully guaranteed, which may give the Cowboys pause in light of Vander Esch’s injury history.
Over the last two seasons, Vander Esch has missed a combined 13 games. Still, he’s remained a productive part of the starting lineup when healthy. Last year, the 25-year-old finished out with 60 stops, one sack, and one forced fumble in ten games.