Cowboys Predicted to Sign Super Bowl Champ to $13 Million Deal - Sport News

Cowboys Predicted to Sign Super Bowl Champ to $13 Million Deal

The Dallas Cowboys could target a Super Bowl champion in free agency.

Willie Gay Jr.

As written by CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin, he projects the Cowboys to sign Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay Jr. to a two-year, $13 million deal. Gay has served as a starting linebacker since entering the league in 2020 as a second-round draft pick and has now won back-to-back championships as the starting weakside linebacker for the Chiefs.

“A regular in the Chiefs’ linebacker corps for four years, Gay has now been a part of two title-winning defenses in K.C., even though his numbers have never been gaudy,” writes Benjamin. “He’ll probably be among the most affordable of their homegrown free agents on this side of the ball, but even then, re-signing Drue Tranquill or leaning on Nick Bolton is probably more likely.”

Why the Cowboys Could Use Willie Gay Jr.

Gay is certainly an unheralded member of Kansas City’s defense despite being a key player on the unit. The four-year linebacker racked up 88 tackles during the 2022 season, ranking third on the team.

While Gay didn’t have an amazing 2023 season — he posted 58 tackles — he remains a steady presence. According to Pro Football Focus, Gay posted grades of at least 66.5 during his first three seasons in the league. He ranked 20th among all players at his position during the 2021 season and 32nd during the 2022 season.

Across his four seasons, Gay has started 47 of his 57 appearances with 233 tackles, five sacks and four interceptions.

Perhaps most importantly, Gay likely won’t cost a lot of money to sign. Spotrac projects his market value to be just $7 million per year across four seasons as a total of slightly more than $28.2 million.

Considering the Cowboys have a projected salary cap space of $14 million in the negatives — 26th in the league — and when factoring in that Dallas would like to sign Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb to contract extensions, they’d love to sign Gay to a $7 million per year deal.

Cowboys Could Sign Willie Gay Jr. To Replace Leighton Vander Esch

The Cowboys will likely have an opening at weakside linebacker with Leighton Vander Esch facing a potentially career-ending injury. The former Pro Bowler has had an extreme history of neck injuries and he suffered another season-ending one after playing in just five games during the 2023 season.

Vander Esch has suffered neck/collarbone injuries in three of his six seasons in the NFL and also suffered one as a sophomore during his collegiate career at Boise State.

Team owner Jerry Jones commented on Vander Esch’s latest neck injury back in November.

“He’s an integral part of that defense out there,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan. “We just wish him well, and just the nature of his potential injury here causes me to really think longer term and beyond what that means for next week or beyond what it means for next month. It has everything to do with what’s in his best interest.”

Gay has now played on a defense that just ranked second in the NFL in points allowed per game (17.3 points) and now has 10 games of postseason experience under his belt. For perspective, the Cowboys’ starting linebackers at the end of the 2023 season — Micah Parsons, Damone Clark and and Markquese Bell — have a combined 10 games of postseason experience among them.

Signing Gay may not be a flashy move, but it could pay dividends when the Cowboys make their postseason run.

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