4 easy cuts Cowboys can make to save $17 million in cap space

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2. Leighton Vander Esch, LB

Leighton Vander Esch might be done with football so this decision could be out of the Cowboys hands. The former Pro Bowler has a long history of neck injuries. He was born with a cervical spine condition that increased the probability of bulging, herniated discs and pinched nerves.

Vander Esch missed seven games in 2019 with a neck injury and underwent surgery that bled into 2020 in terms of missed time. He missed three more games last year and was shelved for all but five games this campaign.

Vander Esch's physical presence at linebacker was sorely missed. It's expected that the Cowboys will overhaul the position this offseason. Even if Vander Esch doesn't retire, his injury history alone makes him a prime cut candidate.

The cap savings would be minimal -- $2,147 million as a post-June 1 cut -- but Dallas needs a more reliable player in the second level of its defense. Vander Esch was solid in 2021 and 2022, but he never quite rediscovered his rookie form when he was named a second-team All-Pro after his brutal run of injuries.