FRISCO, Texas – With uncertainty surrounding their linebacker corps, the Cowboys added a familiar face with the signing of Justin Durant on Thursday.
With just two days until they report to training camp, the Cowboys needed depth at the position, which has been strained since the offseason began.
There's the obvious situation surrounding Jaylon Smith, who is gradually working his way back from the knee injury he suffered 18 months ago. Third-year linebacker Mark Nzeocha may also be unavailable for the start of training camp after undergoing an arthroscopic procedure on his knee in June. Then there's the issue of Damien Wilson, who was arrested on July 4 and may face both legal and league discipline.
With all of that in mind, it makes sense why the Cowboys would turn toward Durant. The 10-year veteran has played three other seasons in Dallas. He originally signed as a free agent in 2013 and played in 16 games over the course of the next two years.
He played the 2015 season with the Atlanta Falcons after signing in free agency, but he stayed there just one year. With Rolando McClain failing to report to the team last summer, the Cowboys signed him for added depth just before training camp – similar circumstances to Thursday's signing.
If there's one knock on Durant , literally, it's probably durability. The South Carolina native has played a full 16-game slate just once in his career, back in 2012 with the Detroit Lions. All three of his previous seasons with the Cowboys have ended in injury – including last year, when he was sidelined by an elbow problem in December.
Despite that, Durant adds a veteran presence to both the linebacker corps and the locker room. He's also versatile, having played all three linebacker spots at times in his career.