Cowboys Sign Ex-Bengals Linebacker in Free Agency: Report

Malik Jefferson

Getty Former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Malik Jefferson looks on during an NFL game.

The Dallas Cowboys are welcoming a new player and defender but a familiar name in their latest move in free agency.

After a quiet June, Dallas has picked up the pace in free agency with the additions of kicker Lirim Hajrullahu and linebacker Christian Sam. The team is currently filling out the roster in preparation for training camp, which starts at the end of July.

Now, after signing a linebacker this past week, the Cowboys are double-dipping and adding another in Malik Jefferson. According to USA Today reporter Jori Epstein, Dallas is signing the former Cincinnati Bengals linebacker.

Former Longhorns LB Malik Jefferson has signed with the Cowboys, multiple sources confirm to @usatodaysports,” Epstein Tweeted on July 14. “2018 third-round pick has played 35 games across stints with Bengals, Browns, Colts, Chargers. Now, an opportunity with his hometown team in Dan Quinn’s defense.”

Heavy previously covered when Dallas worked out Jefferson, and it appears that his trial was successful. Now, the Texas-born NFL veteran is returning to the Lone Star State as he tries to find a spot for the 2022 season.

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Ex-Texas Star Finding Way in NFL

Jefferson hails from Mesquite, Texas, where he played high school football for Poteet and built a national reputation. He was labeled a five-star recruit and had college offers from across the country, but the linebacker elected to stick in home state in Texas.

Jefferson was a key cog of the Texas defense for the better part of three seasons, as Sports Reference shows. Jefferson played in 34 games as a Longhorn, solidifying himself as an NFL prospect with 26 tackles for loss, 13 sacks and 79 solo tackles in his final year.

The now 25-year-old was drafted by the Bengals in the third round of the 2018 NFL draft, but his PFR page shows that it was a struggle to make an impact from the onset of his professional career.

Jefferson has pretty much played exclusive on special teams, totaling 576 snaps on special teams in his career to just 15 career defensive snaps. Cincinnati released the former Texas star the following offseason, which has been a pattern.

The linebacker has been signed and released six different times since coming into the league, and has made regular-season appearances with the Bengals, Indianapolis Colts, Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Chargers.


Jefferson’s Chances with Cowboys

Jefferson is an intriguing addition, especially considering Dallas just signed another linebacker in Christian Sam. Linebacker depth was an important talking point this offseason, and the Cowboys have technically addressed it with the two defenders.

However, neither have been world-beaters in the NFL. Both Sam and Jefferson are young (26 and 25 respectively) so there’s room for upside, but they’re also supposed to be at their peaks at this point.

In contrast to links to Barr and other big-name players, Sam and Jefferson feel like names to fill out the 90-man roster. Jefferson can’t be written off as a quick cut, but he’s got an uphill battle to prove that he’s worth a spot on the final 53-man lineup.

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