Another big name player is getting his option turned down. The Cowboys have informed Leighton Vander Esch‘s agent that they won’t be picking up the fifth-year option on the linebacker, Jane Slater of NFL Network tweets.
That means Vander Esch is now set to be a free agent after this season. What it doesn’t mean however is that the Cowboys no longer view the Boise State product in their future plans. Instead, Slater writes that the decision was “due to ongoing salary-cap uncertainty” and that the Cowboys “instead hope to sign Leighton to a contract extension before his current deal expires.”
Picking up the option would’ve fully guaranteed LVE $9.145MM for 2022, a steep price considering he’s missed 13 games due to injury the past two seasons. Dallas drafting Micah Parsons in the first-round this past week provided the writing on the wall for this decision, even if the team insists they still want to keep Vander Esch around.
Vander Esch was the 19th overall pick of the 2018 draft. He made the Pro Bowl and was a second-team All-Pro as a rookie, but his last two seasons have been disappointing.
As a rookie, he had 140 tackles, seven passes defended, and two interceptions. In 2020 he had only 60 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, and no passes defended in 10 games. He only turned 25 in February, and will have the chance to secure an even bigger payday if he can have a strong 2021 campaign.
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