Cowboys Could Add $68 Million Super Bowl Champ to Fill Big Roster Hole - Sport News

Cowboys Could Add $68 Million Super Bowl Champ to Fill Big Roster Hole

There are a number of holes to be filled in Cowboys free agency even as they wrestle with big-ticket items like new contracts for Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb, deals that should run a combined $80 million per year or so. While the cap has spiked upwards and all teams have a bit more breathing room than expected, the Cowboys will still need to be cost-conscious when filling in some spots, including linebacker.

Shaquil Barrett, a potential Cowboys linebacker

And according to the USA Today site Cowboys Wire, there’s another name in the mill that fits in Dallas: veteran Buccaneers linebacker Shaquil Barrett. Yes, the same Barrett who knocked Prescott around in the 2022 opener, hits that wound up leaving Prescott with a broken thumb.

Barrett, a starter for the Buccaneers for the last five years, is a two-time Pro Bowler, and Tampa would have liked to have kept him. But, like the Cowboys, the Bucs have big-ticket items to bring back (Baker Mayfield, Mike Evans, Antoine Winfield) and need to clear space.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Tuesday: “Buccaneers are releasing two-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett, per sources. Barrett had a $15.04 million option bonus due next month. Instead of collecting it, he now will become a free agent.”

Shaquil Barrett a Veteran Presence at Linebacker

Barrett had been entering the final year of a four-year, $68 million contract, and though he has been playing at a high level, the Cowboys could still sign him on a bargain deal.

Barrett suffered a torn Achilles tendon in 2022 and at 31, he is not the same player he was in 2019, when he led the NFL with 19.5 sacks, or even in 2021 when he earned his second Pro Bowl spot. But he earned a Pro Football Focus grade of 73.1 last year, 42nd out of 113 graded outside linebackers.

As writer Todd Brock put it: “Barrett might now be seen as someone who would bring much-needed experience to the middle level of Dallas’s defense, with Leighton Vander Esch’s football future up in the air. Damone Clark and Buddy Johnson are the only other true linebackers on the current roster; DeMarvion Overshown is a promising prospect but has yet to play a down in the pros as he comes off an injury that pre-empted his rookie campaign.

“The Cowboys are due for changes in the LB room, and could stand to invest in a veteran presence, whether it’s Barrett or someone else with some skins on the wall.”

Vander Esch Injury Leaves Cowboys Linebackers Lacking

There is no doubt that the Cowboys need to invest a bit more in the linebacker spot, especially because, if Vander Esch does leave, the cupboard would be bare. Spotrac notes that the Cowboys are slated to spend $13 million on linebackers, which is eighth-lowest in the NFL. If Vander Esch retires, that number drops below $9 million, fourth-lowest.

Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones was evasive when asked about Vander Esch’s future this week. Vander Esch suffered a neck injury in the loss to the 49ers last year and might not be able to play again.

“It’s an injury issue that he’s getting his hands around,” Jones said, per the team website.

 

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