The latest Dallas Cowboys news reveals the team is expecting to be without starting linebacker Leighton Vander Esch for the remainder of the season. Dallas is also preparing to be without C.J. Goodwin, a key member of the special teams unit. Cowboys rumors are sure to heat about regarding Vander Esch’s future in Dallas. Sports Illustrated’s Mike Fisher details why the Cowboys are likely to be without both players.
“The Cowboys are likely no longer holding out hope that linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, on IR with a neck injury, will be able to return this year from a neck injury … and special-teams ace C.J. Goodwin is conceding that he’s in the same situation,” Fisher wrote on November 13, 2023.
“Vander Esch’s status is not official, but a league source expressed pessimism to CowboysSI.com this weekend regarding his return this year. Goodwin, meanwhile, is set to undergo surgery this week to repair a torn left pectoral muscle, and he tells the Dallas News that he is done for the year.”
Dallas Cowboys Rumors: Has Leighton Vander Esch Played His Final Game in Big D?
This is concerning Cowboys news for Vander Esch given the former Pro Bowler is dealing with a neck injury. Vander Esch has an unfortunate history with neck injuries. The latest update calls into question Vander Esch’s long-term future in Dallas.
The veteran has not played since the Cowboys’ loss to the 49ers on October 8. Vander Esch signed a two-year, $8 million contract last offseason that runs through the 2024 season. The Cowboys can move on from Vander Esch this offseason but would take a $2.25 million dead cap hit, per Spotrac.
Stephen Jones on Leighton Vander Esch: ‘That’s Still a Question Mark’
The Cowboys have been mostly quiet about Vander Esch’s status. Dallas executive vice president Stephen Jones sounded pessimistic in his recent health update on the defender.
“That’s still a question mark as to when or will he come back this year,” Jones noted during a November 6 interview with 105.3 The Fan’s “K&C Masterpiece.” “I think that’s a work in progress. But it certainly won’t be this week, or for that matter, probably (not) in the next couple weeks.”
Dallas Cowboys News: Markquese Bell Has Been a Revelation in Leighton Vander Esch’s Absence
There is a bright side for Dallas as Markquese Bell has emerged as a legitimate player in Vander Esch’s absence. The defender has earned a stellar 86.4 grade (out of 100) from Pro Football Focus for his play in 2023.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill reported on October 9 that Vander Esch’s injury prompted concern about his career status. We have not heard the Cowboys say this publicly, but it is concerning that Vander Esch is sidelined for the season.
“Coach Mike McCarthy said Vander Esch is likely headed for injured reserve after Vander Esch was injured in Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers,” Hill wrote at the time.
“How long he will be out is still unknown, but there is a natural fear that it could be career threatening, considering Vander Esch’s history of neck injuries dating back to college, including a diagnosis of spinal stenosis. The Cowboys will turn to former Texas linebacker Malik Jefferson to help fill the void at linebacker alongside Damone Clark.”
Bell’s stellar play combined with Vander Esch’s injury history means the Cowboys rumors about the veteran are coming. Most importantly, let’s hope that Vander Esch returns to full health and is able to continue his career.