The Dallas Cowboys weren’t active on the first day of the NFL’s legal tampering period. But boy did things ramp up on day two.
The Cowboys made some acquisitions and re-signings that promise to make the defense even better in 2023. Which would be an impressive feat considering the team allowed just 20 points per game last year, ranking fifth.
Here’s how the joyfully chaotic day went in Dallas:
Cowboys Trade For CB Stephon Gilmore
Dallas addressed the depth issues at CB by acquiring Stephon Gilmore via trade from the Indianapolis Colts. In return, the Cowboys sent a compensatory fifth-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
For the Colts, the move had nothing to do with Gilmore’s play on the field. Rather, it was a cost-cutting transaction that opened $9.9 million in cap space for an Indianapolis team that may be in the early phases of a rebuild.
For the Cowboys, this was a slam dunk trade. Gilmore is a bit old at 32 and 2023 will be his 11th year in the league. But he was excellent for the Colts last season.
The South Carolina-native made 16 starts and had two interceptions, 11 passes defended and 66 total tackles. He was also big in clutch time, making two game-winning pass break-ups.
Gilmore received a 79.1 defensive grade from PFF; the ninth-highest mark among CBs. His 81.1 coverage grade ranked sixth.
Gilmore won’t be wildly expensive, either. He’ll have a $7.9 million base salary and will be a free agent after 2023.
Leighton Vander Esch Re-Signs For Two More Years
Shortly after the Gilmore news was reported, news broke that Dallas and Leighton Vander Esch struck a deal. LVE will play on a two-year, $8 million pact that’s worth up to $10 million.
This was major news, as previous reports indicated that no progress had been made at the negotiating table between each party. Instead, Vander Esch will be back and on a very affordable deal.
The 27-year-old has spent all five of his pro seasons in Dallas after being selected by the team in round one of the 2018 NFL Draft. He had a phenomenal rookie year, but injuries plagued the following two seasons.
But Vander Esch suited up for 16 games in 2021 and 14 games last season, so the injury bug seems to have gone away. Despite missing three games in 2022, LVE was second on the team with 90 tackles.
Vander Esch was essential to the Cowboys dominant defense, and his return on a team-friendly deal should make Dallas faithful ecstatic.
Donovan Wilson Returning To Big D
Earlier in the day, it was reported that Donovan Wilson will be returning on a three-year, $24 million deal. Many thought his asking price would be too high for the ‘Boys after Wilson had a career-year in 2022.
But the Cowboys made it work and locked the safety up for three more seasons. It also means Cowboys fans will be treated to another year of watching the dominant safety trio of Wilson, Jayron Kearse and Malik Hooker.
Earlier this offseason, Dallas was said to be prioritizing re-signing Wilson and Vander Esch, and they checked both things off the list very early on.