FRISCO, Texas – As the Cowboys and the rest of the NFL teams get ready for the start of the new league year on Wednesday, plenty of action took place on Tuesday, including the Cowboys saying goodbye to a couple of players, but welcoming two key starters and then trading for a proven veteran.
Here's a look at some of the latest developments for the Cowboys as of Tuesday:
- What a day it was for the Cowboys – with news breaking from start to finish. Let's start at the end of the night when linebacker Leighton Vander Esch re-signed with the Cowboys, officially inking a 2-year deal. Vander Esch, who had one of his best seasons since his rookie year in 2018 when he was named All-Pro and a Pro Bowler, had 100 tackles despite missing three games late in the season. Vander Esch is a key piece to the linebacker corps, especially with Micah Parsons rushing the passer on a frequent basis.
- The LVE news broke just a few minutes after it was announced the Cowboys had traded for veteran cornerback Stephon Gilmore, sending a fifth-round pick to the Colts. Gilmore, an 11-year veteran, has made five Pro Bowls and is just four years removed from winning NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2019 with the Patriots. However, he's bounced around a few times, playing with the Panthers in 2021 and Colts in 2022. The Cowboys had just received two compensatory fifth-round picks last week, and have now traded one to the Colts for a proven corner who will at least compete for a starting job opposite Trevon Diggs.
- The Cowboys have said all along their top priority in free agency is the "in-house" players and they stuck to that, re-signing Donovan Wilson to a three-year deal on Tuesday. Wilson, the Cowboys' leading tackler on defense with 101 tackles, was a difference-maker last season, recording five sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and an interception. In fact, Wilson was the only safety in the NFL last year to post that stat line.
- While the Cowboys re-signed their leading tackler on defense, that's not the case for their top special teams tackler. Luke Gifford reportedly agreed to terms with the Titans on a two-year deal. Gifford had 12 special teams tackles in 2022, but had just 10 on defense in a four-year span since making the team as a rookie free agent back in 2019.
- With Gifford gone, and both Leighton Vander Esch and Anthony Barr are unrestricted free agents, the Cowboys have just four linebackers on the current roster, and one of them is mostly a pass-rusher. Alongside Micah Parsons, the Cowboys have Jabril Cox, Damone Clark and Devin Harper on the roster at the linebacker position.
- Noah Brown's time with the Cowboys is over as he agreed to a 1-year deal with the Texans. But it was quite a run for the 2017 seventh-round pick. Brown spent six seasons in Dallas and had a career-high numbers with 43 catches for 555 yards and three touchdowns.