Cowboys in Free Agency Talks with Former Colts LB and Texas Standout: Report

Jerry Jones

Getty Dallas Cowboys Owner, President and General Manager Jerry Jones walks on the field before a game.

The Dallas Cowboys have had a “quiet” offseason by some fans’ standards, but they may be getting ready to add a new piece.

On July 1, reports came out that Dallas is adding kicker Lirim Hajrullahu, setting up a reunion for the Hajrullahu and the Cowboys after his emergency stand-in appearance last year. Now, a different “homecoming” could be underway with former Texas Longhorns star Malik Jefferson.

Eric Nahlin, managing partner of On3 Sports’ Texas blog, announced that Jefferson is set to visit the Cowboys in less than a week for a tryout.

“Good luck to the one and only ⁦@malikjefferson⁩ on his tryout with the Dallas Cowboys July 8th,” Nahlin Tweeted on July 1.

Cowboys fans that also love the Longhorns ought to be excited by the former college star getting a chance in Dallas. The Cowboys have been linked to a linebacker move in free agency nearly all summer, and Jefferson could be that option.

However, the linebacker’s NFL career hasn’t quite lived up to his draft billing and he can’t be considered a lock. The good news is that Jefferson is still just 25-years-old, despite entering the league in 2018.

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Jefferson’s Journey After Texas

Jefferson first began making a name for himself while at Poteet High School in his hometown of Mesquite, Texas. Ranked as a five-star recruit and one of the best linebacker prospects of his class, Jefferson elected to stay in home state with the Longhorns.

From 2015 to 2017, Jefferson was a crucial member of the Texas defense and his numbers on Sports Reference show that. Over three seasons, Jefferson played in 34 games and totaled 26 tackles for loss, 13 sacks and put up 79 solo tackles in his final year.

The Cincinnati Bengals selected Jefferson in the third round of the 2018 NFL draft, but it didn’t take long for the linebacker’s NFL career to meet adversity. Jefferson almost exclusively played special teams snaps as a rookie in 10 games before he suffered a foot injury and was placed on the injury reserve.

Cincinnati released Jefferson the following offseason, which has become a norm for the 25-year-old. Jefferson has been signed and released by NFL teams six times in four years, including stops with the Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans, and the Indianapolis Colts.

The Colts most recently cut Jefferson in May, and the player has been looking for a new home. His track record shouldn’t get Cowboys fans too excited, but a return to his home state could be the change required.

Does Former Colts LB Fit on Cowboys?

There’s not much reason to think that Jefferson can be the “upgrade” type of player the Cowboys have been linked to at linebacker. In total, the former Colts LB has played just 13 defensive snaps according to Pro Football Reference, although he does have hundreds of snaps on special teams.

Special teams is likely the only way Jefferson makes the roster. Even then, the Cowboys arguably have a better set of linebackers to handle those responsibilities.

Dallas does need to be thinking about the linebacker positions, but the problem is that Jefferson doesn’t feel like the answer. However, nailing a tryout with the Cowboys can drastically change his outlook for the 2022 NFL season, and it may benefit Dallas as well.

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