According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Cowboys have apparently reached an agreement with their first unrestricted free agent. Justin Durant, a Sam LB that had spent the last two seasons in Detroit after four in Jacksonville, has agreed to a two-year deal, in principle.
Dallas and former Lions LB Justin Durant agreed to a 2-year contract that will be signed once Cowboys create more cap space, per team source— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 26, 2013
The basic formula that Jason Garrett uses to approach the draft is that he would prefer to have at least an acceptable starter for each position on the field. This isn't to say that he needs a world-beater, he just needs to be prepared that if value doesn't meet need in the draft, that the team be able to be competitive by having a starting level player man each spot.
Of course, the Cowboys don't currently have any cap room. After restructuring several players and releasing others, the team placed the franchise tag on DE Anthony Spencer. With the little amount of space they had remaining, the team re-signed Weakside LB Ernie Sims to the veteran minimum. This deal is contingent on the expected cap space to be gained from extending either or both Spencer and QB Tony Romo.
Durant has started 25 games over the past two seasons and played in all 16 in 2012. He accrued 103 tackles on the year (82 solo) and earned a -0.1 cumulative grade from Pro Football Focus (+6.1 Run D, -2.3 Pass Rush, -4.6 Coverage +0.7 Penalty). He is expected to battle for the starting position with Kyle Wilber and Alex Albright.
Durant hails from Hampton University (The Real HU) and it would be an interesting competition should the Cowboys select Keith Pough, one of my favorite SLB prospects out of Howard University.
New Cowboys LB Justin Durant tied for the 3rd best 40 time among LBs at the 2007 Combine (4.51).— Jimmy Kempski (@Jimmy_Beast) March 26, 2013
The Lions were apparently ready to move on from Durant, favoring other players they had drafted. Reports also said that the New York Giants were interested in Durant's services as well.