By now, everyone knows that the Dallas Cowboys spent their 2021 first-round pick on Linebacker Micah Parsons. Rumors have begun to arise ever since about the futures of LBs Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith in Dallas. Although, it now seems that the team is set on keeping LVE around for now.
When healthy, Vander Esch has been a productive player for the Cowboys defense. New defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and staff seem to be pretty enthusiastic about him in their defense as well. LVE is also excited about his role in the new defense.
“running, hitting, making plays, having fun. #Cowboys LB Leighton Vander Esch says going back to his role from 2 years which is what should have been his role last year. Says new DC Dan Quinn is “right in there with us” and says “so much respect for him already” & vision clearer
— Jane Slater (@SlaterNFL) June 3, 2021
Leighton Vander Esch on Dan Quinn’s hands-on approach and energy:
“His intensity and involvement is a total game changer. He’s right in there with us running plays and walkthroughs…I have so much respect for him already. I love a coach like that.”
— Brianna Dix (@DixBrianna) June 3, 2021
This should bring some confidence to Cowboys fans that saw the very impressive work that Vander Esch put in when fully healthy in 2018. In that season, he compiled 140 total tackles and a couple of interceptions. He was a force in run defense, especially. If he can get back to that productivity, Dallas may look to lock him up on a bridge-type of deal or even a long-term deal after 2021. His health is what will make the biggest difference.
According to sources, a few teams have contacted Dallas pertaining to the linebacker. While no call is ever completely ignored, the Cowboys are not actively shopping him.
Addressing the Leighton Vander Esch trade rumors, per a source informed…yes there have been other teams interested in the linebacker but I’m told the #Cowboys are not interested in a trade and he’s still very much a part of the defensive plan next year and in the future
— Jane Slater (@SlaterNFL) June 2, 2021
The team did not pick up his 5th-year option earlier in the off-season, but that does not mean they do not believe he can contribute now and in the future. There is just more for him to prove, and he does not take offense to that.
Leighton Vander Esch on motivation from not having 5th year option picked up:
“I’ve always been motivated. I don’t have to use that to be motivated to play better or work harder. I’ve been on a mission since the season was over because we just can’t have a season like we did.”
— David Moore (@DavidMooreDMN) June 3, 2021
Not to mention, Jaylon Smith’s injury past and inconsistency as well as Micah Parsons’ inexperience in the NFL lend well to LVE getting to keep a spot in the linebacker rotation for Dallas. For now, that is. Everything is always fluid, depending on the team’s health and performance. At the very least, Vander Esch is great depth and can make a big impact as a starter when healthy.