Micah Parsons

Cowboys Sign First-Round LB Micah Parsons

The Cowboys have their first-round pick under contract. They agreed to terms with No. 12 overall selection Micah Parsons on Wednesday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Parsons is set to make more than $17MM on his rookie pact.

Parsons’ four-year rookie deal, featuring the customary fifth-year option, is fully guaranteed. Despite being an off-ball linebacker and opting out in 2020, the Penn State product became this year’s first front-seven defender drafted. That obviously points to a key role early on a Cowboys team that has some big investments at this position.

Dallas used a first-round pick on Leighton Vander Esch three years ago and has Jaylon Smith signed long-term. But the former has battled injuries since his breakout rookie year. Smith also entered the offseason on shakier-than-usual ground, though he has managed to stay healthy despite sitting out his rookie season due to a severe college injury. Parsons will change Dallas’ equation at linebacker, however.

The Cowboys traded back two spots but still landed Parsons at No. 12. As a sophomore in 2019, the Nittany Lions ‘backer dominated by registering 109 tackles (14 for loss) and forcing four fumbles. Parsons showed pass-rushing ability that season, recording five sacks, and displayed coverage chops. The versatile defender became a consensus All-American in his second college season. The Cowboys have been using Parsons at all three linebacker spots during their offseason program, per The Athletic’s Jon Machota (subscription required).

After the COVID-19 pandemic affected the Big Ten’s schedule, Parsons opted out and began preparing for the draft. This move did not ding his stock much. Parsons’ arrival figures to shake up the Cowboys’ Vander Esch-Smith long-term partnership. The Cowboys passed on LVE’s fifth-year option shortly after the draft.

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NFC Notes: Bucs, AB, Parsons, Bears

Antonio Brown just won a Super Bowl and then inked a new one-year deal worth up to $6.25MM with the Buccaneers last month, but his off-field issues don’t appear to be over just yet. The oft-embattled receiver is dealing with yet another lawsuit, Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times writes. As Baker notes, this stems from an already settled criminal case where a moving truck driver alleged assault and battery.

Brown was arrested for the incident last year, and he pleaded no contest in June, receiving two years of probation. Brown broke the driver’s car key and “proceeded to verbally and physically attack (Tumanov), causing severe personal injuries,” the lawsuit, which is seeking more than $30K in damages, alleges. Brown’s attorney issued a statement decrying the suit and painting it as nothing more than cash-grab. Since the criminal matter was already resolved, this shouldn’t have any impact on Brown’s standing with the league or status with the Buccaneers.

Here’s more from around the NFC as we wrap up the week:

  • The Cowboys just drafted Micah Parsons 12th overall, and it sounds like they’re planning a diverse role for the Penn State linebacker. Parsons has been working at middle linebacker so far during the offseason program, Jon Machota of The Athletic tweets. Parsons told the media that coaches plan on using him in the box as more of a run defender on first and second down, and have him rushing the passer on third down. Parsons opted out of the 2020 season, but he had five sacks in 2019, so he definitely has some pass-rush upside. Dallas hasn’t gotten very much pass-rush help from fellow highly drafted linebackers Leighton Vander Esch (1.5 sacks in 35 career games) or Jaylon Smith (nine sacks in 64 career games), so it sounds like they want to do things a bit differently with Parsons.
  • The Bears announced a significant change to their offseason program on Sunday night. Chicago revealed they will “no longer hold” previously scheduled OTAs from May 25th-27th. They’ll now begin OTAs on June 1st. Since only two sets had been planned, this means the OTAs are getting cut in half. This could be a sort of compromise between the players and the team to ensure that the second set has “strong participation,” Brad Briggs of the Chicago Tribune suggests in a tweet. As you’re surely aware by now, there’s been widespread opposition among players to many of these voluntary workouts, so it’s not surprising to see teams adapting and making gestures like this.

Cowboys VP: Micah Parsons Pick Doesn’t Impact LVE’s Option

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.

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Cowboys Select Penn State LB Micah Parsons At No. 12

The Cowboys have added to the middle of their defense. After trading back to No. 12, Dallas has selected Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons.

[RELATED: Eagles Acquire No. 10 From Cowboys]

We heard during the pre-draft process that the Cowboys were zeroing in on cornerbacks, with the organization deciding between Jaycee Horn (South Carolina) and Patrick Surtain II (Alabama). Well, both of those players were off the board by No. 10, so Dallas decided to trade back, pick up an extra late-round pick, and still add a major piece to their defense.

Despite working as an off-ball ‘backer, Parsons registered 14 tackles for loss and five sacks as a sophomore in 2019, resulting in him being named a consensus All-Americans. The 6-foot-3, 244-pound defender also forced four fumbles in his second college campaign. The linebacker sat out the 2020 season, but that didn’t cause Parsons to plummet down the draft board; the player was always projected to be a surefire first-round pick, and that ultimately proved to be the case.

Speed and versatility should provide the rookie with plenty of playing time in 2021. Parsons has been lauded for his ability to cover running backs and tight ends, and his ability to impact the passing game makes him a unique player at his position.

Parsons will join a depth chart that’s highlighted by Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith, a pair of players who have shown potential but struggled in 2020. While Parsons may not possess the ability to cover receivers (a skill set the Cowboys have reportedly been seeking) he’ll still provide a formidable run-stuffing, tight-end-stopping and pass-rushing option.

 

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Ohio State CB Shaun Wade Opts Back In; Latest On Other Big Ten Opt-Outs

With the Big Ten now on track to begin its season in late October, Ohio State will have one of its top players back. Standout cornerback Shaun Wade said during an appearance on ESPN’s SportsCenter (via ESPN.com’s Field Yates, on Twitter) he changed his mind on opting out of the 2020 season. He is now set to play as a senior.

Set to follow the likes of Bradley Roby, Eli Apple, Marshon Lattimore, Gareon Conley and Jeff Okudah as an Ohio State corner to hear his name called in the first round, Wade will do so after playing a fourth Buckeyes season. He ranks as the No. 7 player on Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest 2021 big board.

Wade hired an agent but did not file any paperwork, according to ESPN.com. He is not the only one of the Big Ten opt-outs to reconsider. Ohio State offensive lineman Wyatt Davis, a potential first-round pick, also reversed course and opted back in (Twitter link).

First-round prospects Micah Parsons (linebacker, Penn State), Rondale Moore (wide receiver, Purdue), Jalen Mayfield (tackle, Michigan) and Rashod Bateman (wide receiver, Minnesota) opted out before Wade initially decided to pass on 2020. Not all are committed to skipping the season, though some still are.

Penn State coach James Franklin said the door is open for Parsons to play as a junior, according to PennLive.com, while Purdue HC Jeff Brohm intends to check on Moore’s status now that the conference timetable has changed. Bateman, however, does not plan to opt back in, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The Golden Gophers standout wideout has asthma and cited health concerns as a reason he will skip the COVID-19-altered season to prepare for the draft. Despite playing just one full season with the Wolverines, Mayfield plans to stick with his decision to bypass his junior season, per the Detroit Free Press.

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Top LB Prospect Micah Parsons To Opt Out, Enter 2021 Draft

The 2021 first round may not feature too many highlight reels from the 2020 season. Another first-round prospect will opt out, with Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons announcing (Instagram link) he will not play this season.

Parsons will enter the 2021 NFL draft. He is expected to be a surefire first-round pick. The two-year Nittany Lions contributor rates as the No. 6 overall prospect on Todd McShay’s initial list. While Joe Burrow illustrated how much draft stocks can change in a season, Parsons appears a safe bet to be selected in next year’s first round.

Despite working as an off-ball ‘backer, Parsons registered 14 tackles for loss and five sacks as a sophomore last season. The 245-pound defender also forced four fumbles in his second college campaign.

A previous trend saw first-round-caliber players choosing not to play in bowl games. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the equation and forced players to factor in draft-stock damage ahead of their final college seasons.

The list of opt-outs so far: Parsons, Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley, Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman and Miami defensive end Gregory Rousseau. There will almost certainly be more players who choose to bypass the coronavirus-altered 2020 season to prepare for the draft.

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