Micah Parsons

Cowboys’ Micah Parsons To Play More Versatile Role In 2023?

Micah Parsons has established himself as one of the league’s most productive defenders during his first two years in the NFL. The two-time Cowboys All-Pro has also shown a intriguing degree of versatility with respect to his alignments, something which could be taken a step further this season.

Parsons was drafted as an inside linebacker following his college career, but he quickly showed an ability to be a disruptive force off the edge. That led to the expectation that a full-time position switch to defensive end could be coming, but head coach Mike McCarthy made it clear last offseason that Parsons would instead remain a movable chess piece on Dallas’ defense.

The 2021 Defensive Rookie of the Year logged 738 snaps along the defensive line last season, per PFF, adding 737 as a stand-up outside linebacker. Parsons’ 13.5 sacks showed how effective he can be in those alignments and earned him a top-10 finish in MVP voting. Instances in which he handled other duties (including in coverage) could lead to an even more varied workload moving forward.

“Just playing chess, being able to move around,” Parsons said, via Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News“I think that’s the special ability that I have or I want to incorporate. We’re doing a lot of special things. I don’t want to give a lot away right now. But it’s going to be a really cool year. I’m probably going to play eight positions this year.”

While that figure may be on the high side, both the Penn State alum and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn acknowledged that training camp will be used as a testing ground to determine where Parsons can line up in different situations. He will still spend considerable time as an edge rusher, of course, meaning his endeavor to increase his playing weight will be one of significance.

Parsons is aiming to bring himself to 255 pounds (after spending last season at 245) to be better equipped to handle life at the line of scrimmage, but also to preserve what could be a very highly decorated career. By the time the season starts, he will likely have bulked up and the Cowboys will have spent time during the summer devising more unique ways to deploy him.

Cowboys Rumors: Parsons, Draft, Ball, Smith

Cowboys defensive star Micah Parsons has not been in attendance for voluntary workouts in Dallas thus far. According to Calvin Watkins of The Dallas Morning News, this has nothing to do with any issues in his relationship with the team and is actually in service of the team.

Parsons has reportedly been in Austin attempting to bulk up in preparation for more playing time at defensive end. One of the NFL’s more versatile athletes, Parsons played mostly in the box as a rookie before spending the majority of his time last year on the line. At 245 pounds last year, Dallas staff felt he needed to add some muscle in order to better handle routine double-teams.

So, Parsons’s absence is not contract related in any way. He says he’s added about seven pounds and doesn’t intend to surpass 255 in his career. Parsons also claimed earlier that he would be in attendance for Organized Team Activities set to start in two weeks. His absence shouldn’t worry too many as he’s determined to come back stronger and even more dangerous.

Here are a few more rumors concerning the Cowboys:

  • There was reportedly another option on the table for the Cowboys when they used the 26th overall pick to select Michigan defensive tackle Mazi Smith in the first round of this year’s draft. According to David Moore of The Dallas Morning News, Dallas heavily considered using the pick to draft Syracuse offensive guard Matthew Bergeron, who would go on to be selected by Atlanta 12 picks later. Bergeron fit their needs due to the departure of starting guard Connor McGovern to Buffalo. They did address the offensive line later in the draft and likely still will with undrafted free agents, but many expect last year’s first rounder, Tyler Smith, to bounce into a guard spot with the healthy returns of Tyron Smith and Terence Steele, covering the role.
  • Another piece of the offensive line, Josh Ball will have some new expectations this year, according to ESPN’s Todd Archer. After Ball saw extremely limited time in his first two years, mostly at tackle, head coach Mike McCarthy has stated that Ball will be asked to play on the interior this season, as well. This is perhaps another potential solution to the loss of McGovern, or it could just be a backup plan after seeing all the offensive line injuries from last season.
  • Mostly known for his career in San Francisco but last known on the field as a Cowboy, Aldon Smith recently received an update to his off-field situation. Last we heard, the troubled defender had been arrested on a felony charge of DUI causing injury, adding to the litany of issues that had resulted in a four-year suspension from the NFL. Now, according to TMZ, Smith’s arrest has led to a 12-month sentence in jail, likely ending any far-reaching hopes of a return to the NFL.

Cowboys Not Moving Micah Parsons To DE

After winning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, Micah Parsons is expected to have another highly productive campaign in 2022. Given his prowess rushing the passer, some thought he would be in line for a full-time positional switch from middle linebacker to defensive end. In an interview with the team’s website, head coach Mike McCarthy said that won’t be happening. 

[RELATED: Parsons Played 2021 Season On Injured Knee]

“That’s a very fair question” McCarthy said, referring to suggestions Parsons line up on the edge permanently. “But we’ve made it clear: we want him moving around.”

Drafted 12th overall as the consensus top linebacker, Parsons acquitted himself quite well at the position during his time there. Early on in the season, though, he switched to DE after an injury to DeMarcus Lawrence left the Cowboys thin on edge rushers. Regardless of where he lined up on the field, the Penn State alum put up impressive numbers all year.

Parsons totalled 84 tackles, 13 sacks and 20 tackles for loss across 16 games played; as a result, he was recognized with not only the DRoY award, but also Pro Bowl and All-Pro nods. As McCarthy himself noted, however, those sack totals were split between his time at either position. His overall ability to not only rush the passer, but also defend the run and drop into coverage clearly has the team eyeing more of a ‘Swiss Army-knife’ type of role for him.

The Cowboys ultimately lost Randy Gregory in free agency, and later signed Dante Fowler to help replace him. Even if they add pass-rushing help in the draft later this month, Parsons will likely still have plenty of snaps on the edge moving forward. Barring a repeat of last season’s injuries, though, he will also spend significant time in his more natural position.

Micah Parsons Played 2021 Season With Knee Injury

The Cowboys’ original plan with the No. 10 pick of the 2021 draft was to select either South Carolina cornerback Jaycee Horn or Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II. Of course, both of those players were off the board by the time Dallas was on the clock, so the club traded down and ultimately landed Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons, despite its existing LB depth.

All Parsons did was put together a remarkable rookie campaign in which he posted 13 sacks, 20 tackles for loss, and 30 quarterback hits while playing both linebacker and defensive end (just one game into the season, the Cowboys were forced to move Parsons to DE due to a DeMarcus Lawrence injury and Randy Gregory‘s placement on the reserve/COVID-19 list). His efforts earned him NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, and he became the first player to ever win that award by unanimous vote. He also finished second to Steelers edge defender T.J. Watt in NFL Defensive Player of the Year voting.

On top of all that, Parsons hyperextended his knee during a joint practice with the Rams in August, and he played the entire 2021 season while suffering the effects of that injury. “It was at a point where I was like, ‘I’m in a position battle,'” Parsons said. “‘I’m going against Jaylon (Smith). The first game is coming up soon.’ I was like, ‘This is the worst time for this to happen'” (via Jon Machota of The Athletic (subscription required)).

Parsons added, “[i]t’s something that just kept lingering. When you hyperextend something, it needs rest. But I was like, ‘I can’t take no rest.’ The whole season I kept rehabbing, rehabbing, rehabbing so that way I could play in the games.” The 22-year-old also noted that while medication helped, he was in significant pain after games.

A fully-healthy 2022 campaign, along with natural progression and development, might allow Parsons to secure a DPOY nod next year; he will certainly be on the shortlist of favorites heading into the season. But the Cowboys will need to supplement their LB corps just the same. That above-referenced depth at the position is no longer a reality, with Leighton Vander Esch and Keanu Neal set for free agency and with Smith having been released in October.

Fellow LB Jabril Cox, a 2021 fourth-rounder, appeared in seven games last season — primarily in a special teams role — before suffering a torn ACL, which could put the start of his 2022 season in jeopardy.

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 1/12/22

Today’s updates for the reserve/COVID-19 and practice squad/COVID-19 lists:

Arizona Cardinals

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: TE Maxx Williams (remains on IR)

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Dallas Cowboys

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Kansas City Chiefs

  • Placed on practice squad/COVID-19 list: TE Mark Vital

New England Patriots

San Francisco 49ers

  • Restored from practice squad/COVID-19 list: QB Tyler Bray

Seattle Seahawks

Washington Football Team

  • Restored from practice squad/COVID-19 list: DT David Bada

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 1/4/22-1/5/22

Here are Tuesday and Wednesday’s activations from and placements on the reserve/COVID-19 lists:

Arizona Cardinals

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: TE Jared Cook, LB Damon Lloyd (remains on IR)

Minnesota Vikings

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

Cowboys Place Micah Parsons On Reserve/COVID-19 List

Micah Parsons landed on the Cowboys’ reserve/COVID-19 list Wednesday due to a positive test. With this news coming four days before the Cowboys’ recently rescheduled Week 18 matchup, Parsons’ regular season is likely over.

The NFL slid the Cowboys’ regular-season-ending Eagles matchup to Saturday. Even with the NFL’s revised protocols, Parsons will likely not be in uniform again until his team’s playoff opener. Week 18 stands to be Parsons’ first absence this season.

While the Cowboys’ Week 17 loss prevented them from vying for the NFC’s No. 1 seed, the NFC East champions could still obtain the conference’s Nos. 2 or 3 seeds. However, they would need to win and see the Rams and Buccaneers lose to move up. A win and a Rams loss to the 49ers would vault the Cowboys to the No. 3 slot. The Bucs are less likely to drop, having opened as 9.5-point home favorites against the Panthers.

As for Parsons, he has likely sewn up the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year honor. The Penn State product has been a revelation for the Cowboys, registering 13 sacks and an NFL-leading 20 tackles for loss while playing both linebacker and defensive end. No rookie has won Defensive Player of the Year acclaim since Lawrence Taylor in 1981. Oddsmakers peg sack leader T.J. Watt as the favorite for that award. Parsons, who has helped the Cowboys vault from 28th to seventh in scoring defense from 2020 to this season, has the second-best odds for the award.

The Cowboys will have a bit more help at linebacker in Philadelphia. They activated Keanu Neal from their virus list Wednesday. Neal missed Week 17 due to COVID-19.

NFC East Notes: Parsons, McAdoo, Giants

The Cowboys are more than happy that they landed on linebacker Micah Parsons with the 12th-overall pick in this year’s draft. Parsons has started each of his 11 games for Dallas, collecting 67 tackles, nine sacks, and two forced fumbles, and he’s the runaway favorite to win Defensive Rookie of the Year. However, if the Cowboys had had their way, they would have used their selection on a cornerback.

As Jon Machota of The Athletic writes, the team’s “original plan” was to select either South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn or Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II. However, those cornerbacks were scooped up at No. 8 and No. 9 respectively, forcing the front office to pivot. They ended up landing on the Penn State linebacker (after trading down), and the organization couldn’t be happier with how it all turned out.

Parsons explained to Machota how he continues to improve throughout his first season in the NFL.

“People always talk about the rookie wall,” Parsons said, “but I just keep climbing and climbing because I’m excited to see what’s on the other side of that wall.

“I love what we have here. I’m just so honored and blessed to represent the star and have an opportunity to be a star here.”

Some more notes out of the NFC East…

  • The Cowboys are dealing with COVID-19 cases throughout their staff, so they’ll be temporarily promoting Ben McAdoo to a coaching role, tweets NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. McAdoo, who had been serving as a “consultant to the coaches” in Dallas, will be in the coaches booth for tomorrow’s game against the Saints. The 44-year-old spent two years as the Giants head coach between 2016 and 2017, and he returned to the NFL last season when he was hired as the Jaguars QBs coach.
  • Guess who else liked Horn and Surtain? The Giants, according to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post, but the Eagles’ decision to trade up (with the Cowboys, no less) to select wideout DeVonta Smith was the move that really threw New York’s draft into disarray. With the organization’s targets off the board, the team ultimately decided to trade with the Bears, with the Giants selecting wideout Kadarius Toney at No. 20.
  • Another Cowboys/Giants connection: Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv writes that the Joe Judge/Jason Garrett pairing in New York was always an “arranged marriage.” Co-owner John Mara was the one who pushed to add Garrett as the team’s offensive coordinator, and the former Cowboys head coach was an “outlier” on a staff that generally had connections to their head coach. Garrett was ultimately canned by Judge and the Giants in late November after the team had collected a league-low 42 touchdowns.
  • Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports opines that the Giants should go all out on Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson this offseason. The writer cites the organization’s draft capital (which, at the moment, includes picks No. 6 and No. 7), Daniel Jones‘ disappointment in New York, and Wilson’s supposed desire to play in the Big Apple. Assuming GM Dave Gettleman is out after the season, this would be a bold way for a new GM to begin their tenure, but the writer believes this would be preferable to rolling with Jones or drafting a quarterback in a weak class.

Cowboys Move Micah Parsons To DE

The Cowboys could not resist selecting Micah Parsons with the No. 12 overall pick of the 2021 draft, despite their existing depth at linebacker. Parsons was widely regarded as the best off-ball LB in this year’s class, but recent losses along Dallas’ D-line have forced the team to move its top draft choice to DE, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com writes.

The club’s top pass rusher, DeMarcus Lawrence, will be sidelined for the next six to eight weeks due to a broken foot, and fellow DE Randy Gregory has found himself on the reserve/COVID-19 list, leading to an immediate need for reinforcements. Luckily, one of Parsons’ key attributes is his ability to get after opposing quarterbacks, and the Cowboys trained him as a designated pass rusher during offseason workouts.

Depending on how long Parsons remains at defensive end, and how successful he is in his new role, the transition could theoretically impact Dallas’ future plans. Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch is eligible for free agency following the 2021 campaign since the Cowboys declined his fifth-year option, and Gregory is also in his platform year. Dallas does not plan to entertain extension talks with either player during the season. Plus, free agent acquisition Keanu Neal is being deployed as a linebacker, and LB Jaylon Smith is signed though 2025, though the Cowboys could get out of his contract after this season if they choose.

In short, there are a lot of ways Dallas could go with respect to its front seven. Obviously, the expectation is that Parsons will eventually move back to the position that he was drafted to play, but a successful stint as a DE could change things and will only enhance his value.

In related news, Terence Steele is expected to get the nod at right tackle while La’el Collins is serving his five-game suspension (Twitter link via Todd Archer of ESPN.com).

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.