2 Cowboys who undoubtedly deserve contract extensions after Wild Card win
By Jerry Trotta
The Dallas Cowboys dominated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from pillar to post Monday night. The offense punted on its first two drives, but was virtually flawless from that point on, as they posted 31 points (should’ve been 35 if not for Brett Maher’s four missed extra points, but we digress).
Maher’s meltdown aside, it was a picture-perfect performance from the Cowboys on both sides of the ball, and their biggest stars led the charge.
Given what was at stake, Dak Prescott turned in the best performance of his career, accounting for five total touchdowns and 305 passing yards. Micah Parsons, meanwhile, played all but three (!) defensive snaps and totaled two tackles for loss, a sack, two pass breakups, two quarterback hits, and nine pressures.
You also had Jayron Kearse deliver the turning point in the game with his end zone interception of Tom Brady, and Zack Martin and Tyron Smith were forces to be reckoned with on the right side of the offensive line.
The list of players who contributed in a big way goes on (and on, and on), but these next players are seemingly at a crossroads with the organization and proved Monday night that they wholeheartedly deserve new contracts.
2 Cowboys who deserve contract extensions after Wild Card win
2. Leighton Vander Esch, LB
It’s impossible to put into words what Vander Esch’s return from injury meant for the Cowboys’ defense, but we’ll try our best.
For starters, Vander Esch led the team with nine tackles, which marked his career-high for a postseason game. High tackle numbers is what Cowboys fans have come to expect from Vander Esch, but every last one of them was immense. He added two pass breakups, including a big deflection in the red zone.
On the play, Donovan Wilson and Israel Mukuamu had a miscommunication and both traveled with Cameron Brate. Vander Esch recognized the mess and played the role of garbage man by breaking inside and defending two Bucs pass-catchers in the process before getting his hands on Tom Brady’s pass.
It’s not hyperbole to say Vander Esch had a career night, and the Cowboys would be diligent to hand him a contract extension at the end of the season.
Signed to a one-year deal in the offseason after a promising 2021 following a two-year stretch that was marred by injuries, Vander Esch is fully recovered from his devastating neck injury and has played the best football of his career in 2022.
Should he reach free agency, he’ll have ample suitors. Jerry Jones and company should see to it that it doesn’t reach that point.