4 free agents who could make the Cowboys a playoff team

New York Giants defensive end Leonard Williams (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Giants defensive end Leonard Williams (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Lavonte David, Dallas Cowboys
Lavonte David, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Lavonte David, LB

Just a couple of years ago, the Dallas Cowboys were framed as having one of the most talented and youngest linebacker corps in the NFL. That was due to the presence of two Pro Bowlers in Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith.

Yet, entering this offseason, both of their futures in Dallas is unsure. Smith is coming off his worst season as a professional despite posting a career-high 154 combined tackles, the second-highest total in the NFL last year. And there has been some speculation Dallas could part ways with Smith this offseason.

As for Vander Esch, the former first-rounder has struggled with injuries over the last two seasons, missing a total of 13 games in that span. The injuries are such a concern, former Cowboys executive and NFL.com senior analyst Gil Brandt suggested Dallas not pick up the young linebacker’s fifth-year option of his rookie contract.

Signing someone like linebacker Lavonte David would be the strongest of statements when it comes to the state of this team’s linebacker corps. That kind of bold move would send this defensive unit in an exciting new direction and would likely mean the departure of Smith is imminent.

Despite just turning 31-years old, David is coming off a Super Bowl championship and was named to the All-Pro second team for his play in 2020. He racked up 117 total tackles, 12 tackle for loss, three QB hits, three forced fumbles, six pass deflections, and an interception for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.