3 underrated moves the Cowboys made during the 2023 offseason

Aug 4, 2022; Oxnard, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore (left) and head
Aug 4, 2022; Oxnard, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore (left) and head / Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports
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1. Re-signing Donovan Wilson and Leighton Vander Esch

Whenever people talk about the Cowboys' defense, Parsons, Diggs, and even Lawrence always get brought up. Now, Gilmore will be a part of that conversation.

Oftentimes, the play of Donovan Wilson and Leighton Vander Esch goes unnoticed because of it. However, their contributions on the field should get recognized, especially with how important they were to the team in 2022.

So, re-signing both of them this offseason was crucial. The Cowboys signed Wilson to a three-year, $24 million deal and Vander Esch to a two-year, $11 million contract.

Wilson was drafted in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft by Dallas, and since then, he has become a reliable playmaker on defense. People might remember the vicious hit he laid on Dalvin Cook in 2020.

But he's more than just a hard hitter. Wilson has blossomed into a star in Dallas' defense. Last season, he had 101 tackles (team-high) with five sacks and forced two fumbles in 17 games.

But the thing that sticks out most about his game is the ability to move all over the field. He can play safety or play a hybrid role at the linebacker position. That has helped take Wilson's game to the next level. PFF ranked him as the 26th-best safety in the league -- seven spots lower than teammate Jayron Kearse.

As for Vander Esch, he has really stepped up in Dan Quinn's defense over the past two seasons. He played on a one-year contract last year before reaching a two-year deal with the team this offseason.

Not only has Vander Esch shown flashes of his rookie campaign-- where he had 140 tackles and a Pro Bowl selection -- but he gives the Cowboys veteran experience in their linebacker room.

Vander Esch will be joined in the starting unit by either Damone Clark, Jabril Cox, or rookie DeMarvion Overshown. Clark enters his second season after a spinal injury damaged his draft stock in 2021. Cox will now be two years removed from the ACL injury he suffered during his rookie season, and Overshown was a third-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Re-signing Vander Esch gives Dallas some consistency in the middle of the field. He had 90 tackles last season, the most since his rookie season.

With Wilson and Vander Esch staying in Dallas, the Cowboys ensured that most of their defense stayed the same from a season ago. By also adding players like Gilmore and Smith this offseason, the defense can be even more dangerous in 2023.

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