The Dallas Cowboys aren't looking to trade Leighton Vander Esch, according to NFL Network's Jane Slater.
Slater reported the Cowboys consider Vander Esch to be "still very much a part of the defensive plan next year and in the future."
Questions arose about his future with the team after the Cowboys declined his fifth-year option in May. Dallas then selected Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons with the 12th overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft.
Given those two factors, the team's stance on the 2018 Pro Bowler is a little surprising.
Mike Tannenbaum @RealTannenbaum
By selecting two talent LBs in the draft, the @dallascowboys have hopefully found their LBs of the future after declining Vander Esch’s 5th yr option<br><br>They have rookies Jabril Cox and Micah Parsons on rookie contracts until 2024 as well as Jaylon Smith signed through 2025
Vander Esch's rookie option would've paid him in $9.1 million in 2022. While that's not an insignificant figure, it's probably less than the 25-year-old will earn if he remains healthy and bounces back in 2021.
Matt Milano got a four-year, $41.5 million deal to return to the Buffalo Bills, and Lavonte David re-signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a two-year, $25 million contract. Over the Cap also estimates the franchise and transition tags to be $17.9 million and $15.3 million, respectively, in 2022.
Performance hasn't been the problem with Vander Esch. His inability to stay on the field (13 missed games between 2019 and 2020) has been the issue.
Through three years, the one-time first-round pick has 272 tackles, 1.5 sacks and two interceptions, which is good production across 35 games. Nobody will be too surprised if another Pro Bowl campaign is in store.
With their eyes on contending for a Super Bowl, perhaps the Cowboys are content to capitalize on one more year of Vander Esch's services and let the chips fall where they may next offseason.