The Dallas Cowboys appear to be really long at the linebacker position. If I am making an educated guess, rookie first-round pick Micah Parsons looks like he will be the opening day starter at middle linebacker. Leighton Vander Esch, who is playing for a payday, will likely be the team’s starter on the weak side while a reduced role on the strong side for Jaylon Smith appears to be his best fit.
Whenever teams pull a linebacker in favor of an extra defensive back, the strong-side linebacker is usually the odd man out. This is not a jab but I believe a little less Jaylon can go a long way.
The backups at those three positions are also a cluster that has to be untangled before training camp is over. Keanu Neal is a converted safety so his role will likely be as the backup weakside linebacker or spy while Jaylon Smith will get the bulk of his reps in the middle as the strong-side linebacker is looking like the next lost position in the NFL
That leaves three guys in Luke Gifford, Francis Bernard, and Jabril Cox who all have promise and might be able to take the next leap under the tutelage of Dan Quinn.
Training camp will dictate who fits better at what position but it could also shine a light on who simply doesn’t fit in Dan Quinn’s scheme.
If we could play money ball, how much less production would Francis Bernard have if he were the team’s starter on the strongside? Would it be enough to trade or release Jaylon Smith? Would it be even worth the dead cap charge?
These are the types of questions the Dallas Cowboys brass has to answer during training camp. There have already been reports of teams sniffing around the Dallas Cowboys linebackers so I am not too far off of my assumption that the team has more than enough options at the linebacker position.
It is simply a question of who doesn’t fit anymore or how cost-effective is it carrying a player whose production can be replaced by a younger cheaper option.
The Dallas Cowboys also have to look down the road. Let’s say the team trades Jaylon Smith and Parsons with LVE works really well. LVE and Keanu Neal are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents next year. The front office just weakened what looks like a full position group.
The team only kept five linebackers on the roster heading into last year’s season opener meaning two Cowboys linebackers could be suiting up for a different team in the fall. Can the Dallas Cowboys get anything of value in return instead?