Cowboys sign unproven linebacker after exposing key special teamer to waivers

New York Jets v Dallas Cowboys
New York Jets v Dallas Cowboys / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

The Dallas Cowboys have had to navigate injuries to their offensive line since the regular season started. With four of the five starters having missed at least one game, they elevated Brock Hoffman for three of the first four games.

Out of elevations, the Cowboys waived linebacker and core special teamer Devin Harper before Sunday's victory against New England to make room for Hoffman. Signing Hoffman to the active roster was required for the lineman to be active again for Dallas in the regular season.

After a strong training camp and preseason, the Cowboys hoped to re-sign Harper to the practice squad if he cleared waivers.

That ... didn't happen as he was scooped up by the Bengals, which left Malik Jefferson as the lone linebacker on the practice squad. Jefferson was elevated for Week 4, which means he only has two promotions left.

In need of insurance at an already-thin position, Dallas signed linebacker Mikel Jones to the practice squad on Tuesday, per ESPN's Todd Archer.

Cowboys sign LB Mikel Jones to practice squad after Bengals claimed Devin Harper off waivers

The Cowboys worked out three linebackers on Tuesday, including Jones, former SMU standout Jimmy Phillips Jr. and former Troy transfer Tyler Murray.

A former standout for Syracuse, Jones signed with the LA Chargers as an undrafted free agent following the 2023 draft. He was projected as a Day 3 pick (sixth or seventh round), with some experts leaving him undrafted.

Jones' production in college speaks for itself. He racked up 98 tackles, 22 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks in four years, and was second on the Orange in total tackles and third in sacks last season. However, draft scouts didn't love how his size (6-foot-1, 224 pounds) would translate to the NFL and he was often indecisive filling gaps defending the run.

He has a similar build to Harper, who showed with multiple splash plays in training camp and preseason that size doesn't always matter.

Harper was buried on the depth chart, but seemingly was one injury away at linebacker from being a regular on the active roster. Even still, he was a core special teamer for the Cowboys having played 63% of the ST snaps in four games.

Jones will look to fill that void, but he'll have to leapfrog Jefferson, a Dallas native and former Texas Longhorn who saw extensive snaps this preseason.

More Cowboys news and analysis: