FRISCO, Texas – This is a relationship the Cowboys are perfectly happy not labeling.
Coming off an NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year campaign in 2021, there's understandable talk about what Micah Parsons can do for an encore.
And while there might be plenty of speculation about Parsons moving to defensive end, where he can show off his natural pass rush ability, the Cowboys want him doing much more than that.
"The people that say, 'Hey, why don't you play him at defensive end?' very fair. That's a very fair question," said Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy. "But we've made it clear: We want him moving around."
The questions stem from Parsons' own body of work. He finished his rookie season with 13 sacks, showing off a level of versatility most people weren't prepared for. With Randy Gregory sidelined by COVID-19 and DeMarcus Lawrence out with a broken foot in Week 2, the Cowboys asked Parsons to spend most of that game lined up on the edge. He responded with four quarterback hits and a crucial sack that helped the Cowboys secure a 20-17 win over the Chargers.
That natural ability to rush the passer is undeniable. But as McCarthy noted, Parsons' production did not come purely from the defensive end position.
"It would be very easy to just line him up at end and play him there every down, but the fact of the matter is he had, what, 13 sacks. Seven came from the linebacker position, six from the defensive end position," he said.
It's obvious that the Cowboys value that type of personality. Parsons showed his aptitude for blitzing, dropping and coverage and flowing to the ball carrier in addition to a natural ability as a pass rusher. With defensive coordinator Dan Quinn returning to teach Parsons for a second season, it makes sense if they want him wearing as many hats as possible.
To hear it from McCarthy, that also figures to make him more of a problem for opposing offenses.
"I know as an offensive guy, you're helping me if you can line him up at one position every time," he added.
The old adage says: the more you can do, the better. In Parsons, the Cowboys seem to see the value in a player who can do a little bit of everything.