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Mailbag: Gilmore, LVE, Dono? Best Move So Far?

stephon gillmore

The Cowboys usually don't do much at the start of free agency, but I was surprised by all the activity on Tuesday. I know we've got a lot of things left to do, but getting Wilson and LVE back and then trading for Gilmore was a big day. Which of those moves do you think are the most significant? - Sean Randolph / Birmingham, Ala.

Patrik: I hoped against hope the Cowboys would be able to re-sign Donovan Wilson and, to a lesser but still important extent, I beat the table for Leighton Vander Esch to join him in being retained by/in Dallas. And despite both of my wishes having come true, it's the trade for All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore that absolutely takes the cake for me here. This isn't a move that anyone outside of the building saw coming, and to get him for a fifth-round COMPENSATORY pick is pure finesse by the Cowboys' front office. Gilmore is still playing at a high level and playing him in tandem with Trevon Diggs, DaRon Bland and Jourdan Lewis means he won't have the pressure of being CB1 anymore — something that might help extend the window in which he remains in top form (or at least near it). Dropping Gilmore into that CB depth chart and in front of that safety unit, and behind that pass rush, might be borderline criminal and I'm here for it, Your Honor.

Mickey: Can't pick just one. The Cowboys are making TWO moves I thought were vitally essential: Re-signing potential unrestricted free agents Donovan Wilson and Leighton Vander Esch just in time. Do you realize those two guys were the team's leading tacklers in 2022, combining for 2008, the safety Wilson leading the way with 108 and LVE coming in second with 100 tackles at middle linebacker, even though missing the final three games of the regular season. Love me some Leighton Vander Esch, and evidently the Cowboys agree with me, especially with an apparent lack of depth at the position if still intent on playing Micah Parsons so much at defensive end and already losing Luke Gifford as a dependable depth guy. This signing creates great versatility for defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, if you figure the Cowboys now have Vander Esch, Damone Clark, can bring along Jabril Cox, still have Parsons in their back pocket and the ability to use safeties Jayron Kearse or Marquese Bell in a big nickel role. Carry on. 

Nick: Since it's a three-part question, I thought we'd give three answers. For me, they're all interesting but I really like the Wilson signing. Nothing against the other two, but there are some question marks about both, especially when it comes to age and injuries. Wilson is a playmaking safety that not only does the things that show up on the stat sheet - the tackles, the sacks, the interceptions and fumbles. But he brings the "dawg" mentality that this team doesn't always have. Parsons brings it. D-Law brings it. Kearse brings it. But not sure any of them bring it the way Donovan Wilson does. He's out there playing in a violent way and the Cowboys need that. They've been pushed around at times in the past but guys like Wilson don't let that happen too often. So for me, I'll pick Dono has the biggest move so far because of the swag and attitude he brings to the table.

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