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BREAKING: Cowboys Re-Sign LB Leighton Vander Esch to 1-Year Deal

The Cowboys have re-signed to a one-year deal for 2022. The former 1st-round pick joins , , and as 2018 picks to remain in Dallas for at least a fifth season.

After Vander Esch struggled with and scheme changes in 2019-2020, Dallas declined the 5th-year option on his contract for 2022 and allowed him to become an unrestricted . But after a few days on the open market, Leighton remains a Cowboy and on what feels like a “prove it” deal for next season.

There's good reason for optimism with Vander Esch. He was Pro Bowler in his rookie season and the two years after were mostly health-related. He was playing his best ball since 2018 toward the end of last season, even being one of the standout players in Dallas' playoff loss to San Francisco.

Leighton's down years have resulted to a significant discount in this 2022 contract for Dallas. The 5th-year option would've paid about $9 million had the Cowboys picked that up. Now they're getting him back at about a third of that price, still just 26 years old and trending upward in health and performance.

Vander Esch's return fills a major hole at the LB position for Dallas. With both he and , that left the Cowboys with only and as significant returning players from last year. Cox having to come back from a torn ACL only made matters worse.

Dallas will still need depth as backups and are also currently unsigned.

Jess Haynie
Jess Haynie
Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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gary b

If it’s for more then 4-5 million, it’s a bad signing. He has regressed every year since his rookie campaign. Maybe for spot duty, but if we’re relying on him to be a anything more then that….


“Up to $3M” per Todd Archer’s “sources”.

Fair price for the uncertainty that he brings health and performance-wise. Considering how bare the cupboard is, I’m surprised they got him at that price.


It’s for up to $3 million, which is very palatable, IMO. Agree with Jess, he had a very good playoff game v SF, 13 tackles, and was playing better toward the end of the year, and only 26 years old. Maybe his injuries setbacks are behind him, and he can get back to more like his rookie level? I’m hoping anyway.

James Vargas

I like this signing. At a very reasonable price as well !

gary b

Got him cheaper then I thought. Must not have been any market for him. But if he plays more then 50% of the snaps, that’s a bad sign. I’m not sure he can get his mojo back. Seems more psychological with him. That split second of indecision/apprehension he has since the injury has made him ordinary. If he can get the point where he just PLAYS without thinking, we could see glimpses of the old wolf hunter.


It’s a fine line. Think too much and you have Dak and LVE. Think too little and you have Gregory and Kazee.


They re-signed Luke Gifford for 1 year as well. No movement on Keanu Neal, yet.

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