Former Cowboys LB Released by Panthers Amid Dallas Trade Rumors

Jerry Jones

Getty Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones stands on the field prior to Super Bowl 51.

The Dallas Cowboys may be looking to improve their linebacker group, and an LB very familiar with the Dallas organization was just released by the Carolina Panthers.

Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballantine predicted on May 6 that the Cowboys could trade for Atlanta Falcons star Deion Jones, but a player they know personally just became available: Azur Kamara.

The Panthers announced on May 11 that they released the 23-year-old defensive end/linebacker after picking up Kamara on waivers from Dallas last December. The Panthers stated that his cut was a step toward reaching the 90-man roster limit.

At the time of writing, the Cowboys are heading into a season with a familiar starting trio: Micah Parsons, Leighton Vander Esch and Jabril Cox. Parsons famously moves around, Vander Esch is coming off an average season at best and Cox was injured for much of his rookie season in 2021.

Heavy has already explored the possibility of adding a starter-level player like former Minnesota Vikings Pro Bowl LB Anthony Barr, but improving the depth is an option instead. That’s where Kamara comes in.

Kamara would be cheap, knows defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s system, and is still young enough with upside for development.

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Kamara Came to Cowboys After College

While Kamara has been billed as a linebacker for the Cowboys on NFL.com, he’s really a hybrid player more familiar with lining up on the defensive line than running out in coverage as a linebacker.

Kamara went the JUCO route, attending Arizona Western his first two years of college, where he put up 20.5 sacks and 7 forced fumbles over two seasons. That earned him an opportunity at Kansas, where he spent his final two years.

The 23-year-old didn’t blow up the Big 12 quite like he did the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference, but was productive. Sports Reference states Kamara totaled 5 sacks over two seasons, adding 10 tackles for loss.

He arrived in Dallas as an undrafted free agent in 2020. He didn’t make any appearances in 2020 but rode the year on the Cowboys’ injury reserve after hitting waivers with a designation. That allowed him to recover and also give himself the best chance to make the roster in 2021.

Which is almost happened. Kamara bounced between the main roster and practice squad, but appeared in nine games and made a special teams tackle in three separate games in 2021 per the league’s website.


Why Kamara Makes Sense

Dallas is currently figuring out their roster after the NFL draft, but they could do worse than welcoming Kamara back for a 90-man spot.

They know the former Jayhawk is a hard worker who’s willing to find a role on special teams, which may be all the team needs. The Cowboys didn’t pick up a big-name free agent at linebacker or defensive end (unless you count Dante Fowler Jr.,) and the selection of Ole Miss DE Sam Williams in the second round was the biggest investment they’ve made in that area.

Kamara is a low-risk addition. He is a known quantity but also a player who has room to improve. There’s a small chance he clicks in his third NFL offseason and becomes a much more important presence than fans currently expect.

But if he doesn’t have an awesome offseason, the Cowboys can cut him and move on or see if he fits on the practice squad. That’s the more likely outcome, and one worth the minimal investment.

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