We’re not even a month away from NFL free agency, and this year does honestly feel like it’ll be different for the Cowboys.
They’ve got a franchise tag in the works (DeMarcus Lawrence), a long-term contract to work out (Zack Martin), and a probable pay cut to be asked for (Dez Bryant). All of that aside, Dallas still has to worry about linebacker Anthony Hitchens.
Hitchens has been a solid player for the Cowboys since being drafted in 2014. He can play every linebacker position and considering the Cowboys top two have question marks in Sean Lee’s health and Jaylon Smith’s progression, insurance is valuable.
Back at the beginning of this calendar year Hitchens let the world know that he wants to return to the Cowboys via a post on his Instagram account.
Impending free agent Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens took to Instagram to reflect on his season and had a line at the end that could be a preview of free agency: “Hopefully I continue my career here..” pic.twitter.com/szYCFlPhAe— RJ Ochoa (@rjochoa) January 3, 2018
That being said, considering his former linebackers coach Matt Eberflus is officially the defensive coordinator in Indianapolis, the Colts seem like a very likely landing spot should he leave. And the Colts are desperate for linebackers to fit their expected new scheme.
We don’t know exactly what’s going to happen to Anthony Hitchens, but we do know that the Cowboys want to keep him (shocker). Stephen Jones re-emphasized this on Thursday.
Stephen Jones on free agent LB Anthony Hitchens: “That’s one we don’t want to let get out of here.”— David Moore (@DavidMooreDMN) February 23, 2018
Now for what it’s worth this could just be Stephen Jones saying what you say in situations like this. He’s not about to come out and say they totally expect Hitchens to leave and that they already have plans for what to do with his locker.
While we’re not about to try and dissect the depth of this particular comment, it does stand to reason that the Cowboys would want Hitchens back. At the same time though, it also stands to reason that the Cowboys could be convinced of Sean Lee’s health and Jaylon Smith’s talent and be willing to roll with those plus whatever they nab in the draft.
The Phinsider recently put together a list of the top soon-to-be free agent middle linebackers, and considering what we know about Anthony Hitchens he can likely fetch what any of them can. It’s so difficult to envision him returning to Dallas because he’s the fourth priority at best for the team this offseason.
If Dez Bryant does take a pay cut, or if he is released, then this is an entirely different conversation. But as it stands now it’s difficult to see a scenario where Dallas makes sense for Hitchens financially, but obviously anything is possible.