Cowboys trade calls? Their response to Vander Esch
The Dallas Cowboys have received “exploratory” business requests from other NFL teams regarding Leighton Vander Esch, a source told CowboysSI.com, but Dallas has no plans to trade the linebacker.
And Vander Esch himself is comfortable with this plan.
“I have nothing but respect for the Joneses,” said Vander Esch. “They were the ones who took my chance (which made him a first-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft). So I’m confident in their plan.”
That plan: for a healthy Vander Esch to be the starting linebacker on the weak side in 2021 … and maybe even to discuss with him and Agent Ron Slavin the idea of a contract extension.
COO Stephen Jones says, “We would like to keep Leighton here for the next four or five years. ”
This statement seems counterintuitive to some critics who fail to understand that the clubs’ recent decline of his fifth-year option (which would have paid him $ 9.1 million in 2022) means they are done with the player.
On the contrary, they just aren’t sure about the finances, shape and health of the projections a year from now. So the Cowboys will let things unfold – things that include the possibility of rookie Micah Parsons quickly taking over from middle linebacker and things like Jaylon Smith playing maybe just one more season in Dallas before his rich contract does offer some loophole.
For the record, Vander Esch and Smith featured prominently in Dallas first team defensive work in OTA practice Thursday, with Vander Esch registering a nifty interception – and the two starting together.
So for now? Dallas has built a hall of talented linebackers even in the wake of Sean Lee’s retirement – and there’s no reason to hastily unplug what this group might become.
“I think it’s fun,” Vander Esch says of “competing against each other, not against each other. I think that’s what it is to be a good teammate. You are not trying to compete with someone who is on your team. You try to compete with them and I think that makes everyone better.
So Vander Esch’s relationship with other linebackers is healthy. And so does his relationship with his decision-making bosses.
“I think we have a good thing going on,” said Vander Esch, bowing to the Cowboys front office. “Our relationship is amazing.
And the Cowboys’ plan, aside from commercial calls and rumors, is to keep that plan in place.