Skip to main content


Presented by

Mailbag: Focus on Keeping Defensive Free Agents?


Subscribing to the Philosophy of "defense wins championships and "the game is won in the trenches" credo, wouldn't it be better to concentrate on retaining linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, safety Donovan Wilson and offensive tackle Terence Steele over tight end Dalton Schultz and running back Tony Pollard? – Chris Perkins/West Kelowna, BC

Patrik: Pollard is locked in now, but I'm 100% on board with you in my belief that, all things considered, the most important thing this offseason is to try and keep the defensive band together, if possible. Leighton Vander Esch re-established his value to the LB corps and Donovan Wilson was a man possessed, and anyone saying it's because he was in a contract season hasn't been paying attention to his four-year career. It's actually the second breakout season by Wilson, not the first (that having been in Year 2) but was instead a career-best season, and it showed his versatility as a safety who can cover, support the run and, when called upon, shake the fillings out of a quarterback's teeth. But there are other, less-heralded names as well here to consider — Carlos Watkins, Johnathan Hankins, Dante Fowler, Jr., etc. — who make your point in that the Cowboys defense can't afford to lose so much talent to free agency.

Kurt:  I agree with you, although obviously the Cowboys didn't feel entirely the same since Pollard was given the franchise tag. But remember, his production dropped once Steele was lost last season due to injury, so shoring up the offensive line has to be a priority. Reportedly set to offer Steele a second-round tender, the Cowboys are rolling the dice a little, as they're assuming other teams won't spend big on a right tackle coming off an ACL injury. But you never know. Giving up a second-round pick for a proven NFL lineman might be worth it to some club out there. Dallas, of course, has the right to match any offer, but just how high can they go? As far as Vander Esch and Wilson, well, it takes two to tango, as they say. While reports have stated that the Cowboys have been trying to reach deals with both, they may not be able to match what the players can get once they hit the open market. Still, you can bet that whether its retaining their own or bringing in a few fresh faces, the Dallas front office will be active in trying to get the right players for defensive coordinator Dan Quinn's unit.

Related Content