Cowboys Could Sign Ex-Raiders Starter to Replace Leighton Vander Esch

Jayon Brown

Getty Former Las Vegas Raiders linebacker Jayon Brown

The Dallas Cowboys are coming off a big divisional win, but the loss of Leighton Vander Esch may require the team to add reinforcements. In terms of potential additions, one name that stands out is former Tennessee Titans and Las Vegas Raiders linebacker Jayon Brown.

It’s a bad beat for both the Cowboys and Vander Esch, who’s reoccurring neck injuries may be bringing his career to a premature end. However, Dallas has to figure out a solution going forward. An immediate option would be adding Brown.

Upfront, Brown is no Vander Esch and probably wouldn’t outclass Rashaan Evans. Evans just dropped a solid performance after being called up from the practice squad. That being said, it was against a New York Giants team that is dead in the water.

Adding someone like Brown ensures the Cowboys at least have multiple experienced options. Evans has looked fine in a limited capacity, but there’s no guarantee that will continue.

Brown has shown flashes of top-level play in the NFL, like Evans. There’s very little risk to signing him to a practice squad deal, but it both insures and potentially elevates the defense’s capabilities.

Brown’s Career Stalls with Injuries

After his second season in the NFL, Jayon Brown looked like an up-and-coming star in the NFL. The Titans have built an identity around getting the most out of defenders, and Brown’s a perfect example.

Brown was a fifth-round pick in 2017, and spent his rookie year adjusting to the league. But in 2018, the former UCLA Bruin showcased his talents. According to PFR, the 28-year-old racked up 64 solo tackles, six sacks, two forced fumbles and six passes defended with a pick-six.

Considering he started just nine games, that’s an insane amount of impact. In nearly every category, Brown was showing up in a big way in the box score. 2019 was also impressive, defending eight passes and making a pick, as well as registering 69 solo tackles.

But the injury bug hit Brown in a major way. In three consecutive years, Brown was placed on the injured reserve with different injuries. He missed 22 games, but he still brought down two INT and made 11 passes defended, two forced fumbles and a sack in the 28 games over that span.

Cowboys See Former LB Reject Eagles for Vikings

While Dallas decides how to handle the Vander Esch situation, they just saw former linebacker Anthony Barr sign with the Minnesota Vikings. Barr only played for Dallas in 2022, but was a solid pickup when was having injury issues. That being said, he was not re-signed by the Cowboys and did not land on a new team until this week.

Barr signed with the Vikings on November 13, as Heavy’s DJ Siddiqi recently covered. Reports indicated that the four-time Pro Bowler was also considering the Philadelphia Eagles. Barr elected to return to Minneapolis for another season instead.

The Cowboys and Vikings are not currently set for a matchup this season. However, the Vikings are making a playoff push like the Cowboys. In a scenario where they meet, it would likely require one of the two teams to win their division.

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