The Dallas Cowboys have a tremendous trio of starting linebackers. But the team should consider adding a proven, veteran asset to help boost the unit.
The Dallas Cowboys starting linebacker corps consists of Jaylon Smith, Sean Lee, and Leighton Vander Esch, which is no doubt one of the top positional groups in the entire NFL. Their primary backups are Joe Thomas, Justin March, and Luke Gifford.
When the trio of Smith, Lee, and Vander Esch are all on the field and healthy, they are an absolute problem for opposing offenses. However, the keyword is healthy.
Fans have witnessed Lee’s hamstring issues over the years, Smith’s devastating knee injury coming out of college, and most recently Vander Esch and his issues with his neck, which was a known concern prior to the 2018 NFL Draft.
When the start of the 2020 season kicks off in September, we should see all three of these star linebackers at 100 percent. But for how long? What is the realistic chance that Smith, Lee, and Vander Esch play out the full 16 games of the regular season with zero setbacks? Let’s be realistic, that possibility seems very slim.
So, the Boys need to be prepared for when or if this may occur. And I’m a believer in Joe Thomas as he did get valuable reps over the course of last year. But there is one free-agent linebacker out there who can be very dynamic in new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan multiple scheme and who also has had experience playing under head coach Mike McCarthy. And that’s Clay Matthews.
Under McCarthy and his 10-year stint with the Green Bay Packers, Matthews racked up 482 tackles, 83.5 sacks, 15 forced fumbles, and six interceptions. A hybrid linebacker who can play on or off-the-ball is something that can become of great value for this Dallas defense down the stretch.
Matthews is the type of player who can rotate to multiple positions, drop in coverage or rush the passer. He brings value inside the locker room as well with his leadership, experience, and, of course, talent.
I’m not saying Matthews should take the place of a starter in Dallas. But he would be a great insurance policy for the team’s top three linebackers as he’s a proven veteran who still has a lot left in the tank. Last season, Matthews racked up 37 total tackles, 8.0 sacks, three pass deflections, and two forced fumbles in 13 games for the Los Angeles Rams.
The remaining question mark for the Dallas Cowboys signing someone like Clay Matthews is his price tag. His most recent signing was with the Rams for two years at $9.25 million in 2019. In order to reunite with Mike McCarthy, and considering he’ll turn 34-years old this month, Matthews might be willing to sign a more team-friendly deal to join America’s Team.