The Cowboys have declined the 5th-year option on LB Leighton Vander Esch, leaving 2021 as the final year on his rookie contract. It's not a surprising move given LVE's injury issues the past 2 years (13 games missed). The decision adds upside to 1st-round pick Micah Parsons, who should find a full-time role by 2022 (if not sooner).
The Cowboys selected Penn State LB Micah Parsons 12th overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, after a trade down with the Eagles. Before opting out of 2020, Parsons delivered cross-category production for the Nittany Lions. His 2019 stat line included 109 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 5 pass breakups and 4 forced fumbles. He backed up that college production and tape with stellar athletic testing, including a class-leading 129.6 speed score (on a 4.41-second 40). That’s an even better speed score than Isaiah Simmons or Devin White, who led the past 2 LB classes. Parsons could be an option at any LB spot for the Cowboys. Sean Lee recently retired. Leighton Vander Esch has had neck issues. Even Jaylon Smith has been up and down. We'll see about the specific plan for Parsons, but he looks like a good bet for stat production.