It seems like the Dallas Cowboys don’t seem to feel that they have to secure more linebackers this offseason. At least, according to Stephen Jones. When talking to the press at the NFL annual meetings in Florida, Jones confirmed that the Cowboys would not be signing linebacker Bobby Wagner (a candidate many Cowboys fans hoped the team would be able to get) because it “didn’t work out.” The translation of that is likely that Wagner was looking for too much money.
However, the follow-up to that statement was quite interesting. Jones tried to explain that not getting Wagner wasn’t a big deal because he didn’t think that linebacker was a huge need for this team. Why? Because linebacker Jabril Cox is “doing really well” with his ACL recovery.
To jog your memory, Cox was considered a steal in the 2021 NFL Draft after being a part of LSU’s 2020 National Championship team. He played in seven games before sadly tearing his ACL in October. It was a rough end to a rookie campaign that had a lot of excitement behind it. Before the injury, Cox started in zero games and had only two total tackles. Despite promise about his career, it’s hard to say what this young linebacker will bring without seeing him on an NFL field much at all.
In his absence, Keanu Neal and Leighton Vander Esch filled in at linebacker along with Micah Parsons. With Keanu Neal still unsigned and looking to switch to safety, Jones seems to believe that Parsons, Cox, re-signed Vander Esch, and Jayron Kearse will be able to hold down the linebacker corps. Here is Jones’s quote about Cox:
"“He’s doing really well. Feel great about it, feel great that he’s the right fit with what Dan wants to do defensively. He’ll be a big plus for us this year – probably fit right in where Keanu (Neal) left off. I think he’s got great coverage skills. A good offseason with him will be good for him. I really like his upside.”"
Stephen Jones says LB Jabril Cox is doing great and implies that linebacker is not a huge position of need for the Cowboys right now
Jayron Kearse? The safety? Allegedly, yes. Jones believes Kearse will function as a nickel/dime LB. Does Kearse know about this? Regardless, it’s hard to not call linebacker a position of need. The Cowboys simply can’t rely on Parsons, a maybe-improved-after-injury Cox, a declining Vander Esch, and a guy who spends most of his time at safety. Are any two of these guys good enough to start at linebacker to give Parsons more flexibility? Arguably not. Especially if Kearse is needed at safety.
For weeks, the narrative has been that the Cowboys are trying to solidify a new person at linebacker to allow Parsons to help on the edge rush more often. Now, Jones is saying the team is fine with Cox playing that role despite seeing very little football out of him. The team also re-signed Luke Gifford, but again that felt like more of a depth sign than anything else. Amongst this list, Parsons is the only one who stands out. However, if Cox can be what Jones is expecting him to be, linebacker certainly moves down on the list of dire needs heading into the draft.