The Houston Texans would be silly to not go after Leighton Vander Esch

Leighton Vander Esch has hit the free agent market and the Houston Texans need to make a play for him.

Dallas Cowboys v Houston Texans
Dallas Cowboys v Houston Texans / Bob Levey/GettyImages
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Two things can be true at the same time. The Dallas Cowboys released Leighton Vander Esch, the team's outside linebacker and former first-round pick in 2018. Injuries have crept up over the last few seasons and the team opted to cut him one year after giving him a two-year $8 million contract. He isn't the same player he was in 2018, but he's still good enough. Especially for a team like the Texans who need help at linebacker.

So while the Cowboys made the right call to cut him, as he wasn't worth his contract, the Texans still need someone to come in and help them out at linebacker. So why not Vander Esch? We're not talking about a massive contract. Those seem to be the norm this offseason for guys who really don't warrant them. No, we're talking a one-year deal, worth around $2 million tops, and that's with incentives.

He does have injury concerns, it's part of the reason why the Cowboys released him. He may even follow Los Angeles Rams (well, former LA Rams) defensive tackle Aaron Donald into retirement. If he doesn't though, the Texans would be wise to bring him in in.

The team is still thin at linebacker, especially after they lost a potential Pro Bowler in Blake Cashman and instead used the money to sign an average middle linebacker in Azeez Al-Shairr. Al-Shairr will be an improvement over Denzel Perryman, but with Christian Harris still a work in progress and no other sure thing at the position, Vander Esch can be a low-risk, high-reward option. If you sign him to a contract and he can't go anymore, just cut him. He won't hurt your cap for 2025, and you can then go look for a guy who can in fact play outside for the Texans.

If he can play, then you just found a standout linebacker for next to nothing. And while the team has met some fair criticism for their low-balling tendencies with free agents this offseason, it has to be said that if there is a bidding war for Vander Esch, that the Texans just drop out. He's worth pursuing, but only for the right amount.

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