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Dallas Cowboys Free Agents 2013: Meet The Newest Cowboy - Justin Durant

The Cowboys filled a hole on defense with a free-agent acquisition at linebacker.


It looks like Justin Durant has signed his two-year deal.

Justin Durant was a second-round pick out of Hampton by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Height: 6-1 Weight: 240 Age: 27
Born: 9/20/1985 Florence , SC
College: Hampton
Experience: 7th season
High School: Wilson HS [Florence, SC]

He's basically been a starter his whole career with the Jags and Lions. He signed a two-year, $5.5 million contract with the Lions in 2011. The Cowboys certainly have two starters at linebacker (Sean Lee, Bruce Carter), Durant will likely be the third on the strong-side. His current competition would be Kyle Wilber, Alex Albright or Ernie Sims. It it possible they use Durant in base and run situations, but might sub-out for nickel/dime pass packages. As previously noted, his PFF ratings are strong against the run, weak against the pass.

Pride Of Detroit wrote this about the reason the Lions would let Durant go.

One reason the Lions could potentially afford to lose Durant is the emergence of Ashlee Palmer. Palmer actually wasn't even tendered a contract as a restricted free agent last year, as the Lions wanted to sign him for less money. Fast forward to the end of 2012 and Palmer received an extension for his play on special teams and his potential as a starter. He made two starts at linebacker in 2012, and he will be the favorite to start if Durant leaves.

Scouts Inc. says this about Durant:

"Durant had the most productive season of his career in 2012. He is a powerfully built linebacker with excellent athleticism. He is an instinctive defender who reacts quickly as plays unfold. He runs well and shows good range to overlap zones in the passing game and is effective in combination man schemes. He is a solid tackler in the open field and understands angles to leverage the ball. Durant brings consistency and leadership to the Lions."

Durant tweeted out his goodbyes to Detroit.

Durant sent out two gracious tweets Tuesday: "Shout out to Detroit man I wanna thank y'all for the luv and support y'all showed me the past couple years I really appreciate it."

And ... "I thank the organization for allowing me the opportunity to play the last 2 years I am forever grateful."

More on Durant:

Durant brought immediate competence in both run defense and coverage. What he did not bring was the ability to make impact plays. Despite being fast and frequently in position to make things happen, Durant was one of the least impactful linebackers in the league. In 29 games (25 starts) in Detroit, Justin Durant bagged 1.5 sacks. That's a weak number but understandable as the linebackers seldom blitz in Gunther Cunningham's defense and how frequently Durant was asked to drop into coverage. The problem was that Durant declined in coverage and failed to intercept a single pass, breaking up just 4. He only forced one fumble in his two years, and made just 10 tackles for loss (a number I misrepresented on Twitter, sorry!) in his Detroit career. The 82 solo tackles are nice, but his run defense rating from ProFootballFocus sat 34th out of 43 total 4-3 OLBs, while his coverage ranked 37th.

In short, Durant was okay but did nothing compelling to generate value to the Lions.

He served as a nice bridge and was a positive presence in the locker room and the community. He was a competent linebacker for a team that didn't have a lot of competence upon his arrival.