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Now that we know the value, should the Dallas Cowboys pick up Leighton Vander Esch’s 5th-year option?

The Cowboys have a decision to make on one of their linebackers.

Dallas Cowboys v Washington Football Team Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

We are in the middle of the 2021 NFL offseason which means a few different things. Notably among them is that the time has come for each team to decide whether or not they want to pick up the fifth-year options on their 2018 first-round picks.

The Dallas Cowboys took linebacker Leighton Vander Esch with the 19th overall pick in the draft held inside their own house at AT&T Stadium. Vander Esch had a phenomenal rookie season that earned him Second-Team All-Pro honors, but he has struggled to re-find that form ever since.

A key financial point of consideration is that 2018 first-round picks are the first to have their fifth-year option values fully guaranteed. With that being said, should the Cowboys pick up Vander Esch’s this offseason?

Should the Dallas Cowboys pick up Leighton Vander Esch’s fifth-year option?

The National Football League was very busy on Wednesday and got things started by announcing a salary cap of $182.5M for this season. Compensatory picks were announced as well (the Cowboys received four) and figures for 2018 fifth-round options were established. Not to mention the fact that Dak Prescott had a press conference to announce his new contract.

Focusing on Vander Esch for a second though, the value for his particular fifth-year option is now known. Dallas will have until May 3rd to decide if they want to pick it up. Should they?

Leighton Vander Esch’s fifth-year option value for the 2022 season: $9.145M

This isn’t exactly super elite money ($9.145 million) for a linebacker in today’s NFL, but it is a pretty penny relatively speaking.

Consider that Anthony Hitchens (our old friend) makes $9M a year currently. Joe Schoebert, Blake Martinez, Lavonte David, Bernardrick McKinney, Eric Kendricks, and Jamie Collins all reside in the $10M per year neighborhood. Would you feel comfortable placing Leighton Vander Esch there for the 2022 season?

While this decision obviously centers around the level of play that we all believe Vander Esch to be capable of, an equally large question is how likely it is that he will even be available for the team relatively speaking. Vander Esch played nine games in 2019 and 10 games this past season. He is a question mark if there ever was one at the linebacker spot, and given that his running mate is Jaylon Smith, the future of the position is one that has people feeling rather skeptical.

One player who has been mocked to the Cowboys at times is Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons. The merits of going another direction with the 10th overall pick certainly exist, but if the Cowboys have an opportunity to reset in the middle of their defense they should certainly consider it.


Should the Cowboys pick up Leighton Vander Esch’s fifth-year option for 2022 at $9.145M fully guaranteed?

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