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Cowboys Free Agency: Is LB Anthony Hitchens A Priority?

The frustrating reality when it comes to the ' approach in roster building is — at certain positions — they seem set on bargain-hunting for quick fixes and players with untapped potential to do the job. For years now, has been one of those positions, with the Cowboys failing far too many times at adding a true starter next to .

With approaching on the league calendar, the Cowboys will now have a decision to make on one of their most promising linebackers. After four years of solid production at all three LB spots, is set to hit the open market.

Schedule & Game Results Table
Defe Defe Defe Defe Defe
Week Rec Opp 1stD TotYd PassY RushY TO
1 W 1-0 New York Giants 13 233 198 35 1
2 L 1-1 @ Denver Broncos 26 380 202 178 2
3 W 2-1 @ Arizona Cardinals 22 332 283 49
4 L 2-2 Los Angeles Rams 24 412 244 168
5 L 2-3 Green Bay Packers 25 342 182 160 1
6
7 W 3-3 @ San Francisco 49ers 23 290 187 103 3
8 W 4-3 @ Washington Redskins 16 285 236 49 3
9 W 5-3 Kansas City Chiefs 17 323 255 68 1
10 L 5-4 @ Atlanta Falcons 22 336 204 132 1
11 L 5-5 Philadelphia Eagles 17 383 168 215
12 L 5-6 Los Angeles Chargers 25 515 434 81
13 W 6-6 Washington Redskins 15 280 224 56 4
14 W 7-6 @ New York Giants 21 330 228 102 2
15 W 8-6 @ Oakland Raiders 19 293 171 122 1
16 L 8-7 Seattle Seahawks 15 136 60 76
17 W 9-7 @ Philadelphia Eagles 12 219 149 70 2
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 2/25/2018.

 

Hitchens' contract year did not start off as cleanly as the team hoped, injured against the in the . Recovering faster than expected, Hitchens made his 2017 debut against the . You can see the improvements in the Cowboys' overall numbers on once Hitchens returned to the field.

One thing the Cowboys do have going for them entering 2018 is the status of LB . The Cowboys deserve to parade around Jaylon Smith as a draft risk that worked out, and that's exactly what it feels like they'll do.

Relying on Smith and Lee to be the team's primary linebackers, on the field together in Nickel sets, is a solid start for the Cowboys. Anthony Hitchens as depth behind both of these starters, a role he excels in, creates much less of a need at LB in Dallas though.

Anthony Hitchens was a fourth round pick in the 2014 . The 2018 Draft class features plenty of depth at his position, meaning the Cowboys' could allocate the money Hitchens would warrant elsewhere – replacing him with a cheaper, younger option.

While slightly limited in pass coverage, Hitchens serves an important role as a read-and-react defender for the Cowboys that brings physicality against the run. This is the type of player that loves.

The likes of and have added say in what the Cowboys' defense will look like moving forward now however. Richard will coordinate the back seven of this defense, as he did brilliantly in Seattle, while Bloom is the Cowboys' new LB Coach.

Anthony Hitchens
Dallas Cowboys LB Anthony Hitchens (Tom Fox/The )

Just how much they value a quality, starting-caliber LB on this roster will say a lot about the direction the Cowboys want to go in free agency this . While it is understood that they won't be big spenders on outside players, their own has become a priority.

Taking this approach in free agency allows freedom come draft day, as the Cowboys can focus on adding talent anywhere on the roster.

Regardless of where Anthony Hitchens is next year, linebacker is a position the Cowboys should be looking to build on, and it may be best if they let Hitchens walk.

Sean Martin
Sean Martinhttp://wmscradio.com/show/upon-further-review/
Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and wmscradio.com every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.

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Travis Diggs

I guess yall forgot Sean Lee gets hurt every season and when he gets hurt whos always there, Anthony Hitchens. So to the point of this article, Hitchens is a priority this off season

nick

Yes I believe they should sign him to a 2-3 yr deal by then we’ll know if jaylon is the player he was in college and both of there contracts will expire around the same time an we can pay the best 1 a big extension, and hopefully draft another starter during those 2-3 yrs. He’s a really good LB and I think he’s a huge priority with the health of Lee always being a problem.

Sean Martin

Nick, thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. You have a really good idea here with Smith and Hitchens, just wonder if their commitment to Smith has already forced that decision a bit. Or if the FA market for Hitchens will do it for them. I’d love to have him back at the right price.

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