The Cowboys NEED a linebacker: Top 3 available free agents


The Cowboys are in desperate need of a linebacker. Since the departure of pro bowl linebacker Jaylon Smith, the Cowboys have struggled to find a suitable replacement to man the middle of their vaunted defense. The Cowboys defense finished 16th in total run defense last year was run off the field in their playoff matchup against the 49ers, surrendering 169 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. While the Cowboys are banking on the development of defensive tackles Osa Odighizuwa and Neville Gallimore to fortify the middle of the defensive line; a serviceable linebacker will still be needed to snuff out any runs that make it to the second level. While the Cowboys do have an all-pro in Micah Parson, he has now solidified himself as one of the best pass rushers in football, meaning he will be relied on to get to the quarterback and not playing traditional linebacker. The rest of the Cowboys linebacking core consists of players who are either currently or often injured or rookies with no experience at the NFL level. Luckily for the Cowboys there are still several linebackers available who can come in and make an instant impact for this team.

  1. Anthony Barr

Anthony Barr is a baller. He is one of the rare linebackers who can play the run and cover at an elite level. While he is currently 30 years old, he can still provide a veteran presence and quality play. In 11 games last year Anthony Barr accounted for 72 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and a career high 3 interceptions. When he is healthy, the former 4-time pro bowler is still one of the best in the business, but injuries as of late have been problem. He only played 2 games in 2020 due to Covid and torn pectoral muscle and in 2021 he was hampered by a knee injury that he played through all season. Even so Anthony Barr would be the best pure linebacker on the Cowboys roster if he were signed.

  • Dont’a Hightower

The lifelong Patriot still has some thread left on the tires. While not the coverage player that Anthony Barr is he is still one of the premiere linebackers in run support and play recognition. In 15 games last season he posted 64 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Hightower also provides championship pedigree, having started on three Super Bowl winning defenses. He rarely misses prolonged periods of time due to injury and he has one of the higher football IQs amongst linebackers.

  • Anthony Hitchens
Cowboys at Redskins 10/29/17

The former Cowboy would be a perfect fit back in the Blue and Silver. Hitchens is a consistent presence in the middle of the defense, coming off a season where he racked up 80 tackles, an interception, and two passes defended. While he is several seasons removed from his 135 tackles break out performance, he is still a good linebacker who excels in run support and gap fit.


Honorable Mentions: Kwon Alexander

The youngest guy on this list at only 27 years of age. Kwon is an exception coverage linebacker. For his career he has 8 interceptions and 32 pass deflections, numbers that some defensive backs have failed to post. He also has value as a part time pass rusher with a respectable 12 career sacks. The issue however is he is a complete liability in the run game. Alexander has the athletic ability to get to the point of contact however he is a very poor tackler who often misses tackles all together or fails to get the runner on the ground. For a Cowboy’s team that already struggles against the run his addition would not add the needed support that the Cowboys need to fortify their anemic run defense. Unless Dan Quinn can coach him into an improved tackler he would be the last of the listed linebackers I would personally recommend.

If the Cowboys want to improve their linebacker room, there are several prime candidates available that would be an upgrade over most of the players currently on the roster. With cap space to spare and a defensive coordinator in Dan Quinn who has already proved he can maximize a player’s talents; it is up to the Cowboy’s front office to get players into the building who can make a difference.


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