Cowboys Defense Takes a Hit By Losing Anthony Hitchens

Josh Whitworth
AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas.
The former home of linebacker Anthony Hitchens. Photo Credit: Ron Kikuchi – Under Creative Commons License.

The Dallas Cowboys have opted not to pay linebacker Anthony Hitchens an amount that equals about $9 million a season. Hitchens has instead decided to sign with the Kansas City Chiefs in their attempt to replace Derrick Johnson. This is bad news for the Dallas defense as they have already started to plan for a year without Orlando Scandrick.[heading]The Veteran Option[/heading]Dallas now has to worry about finding a replacement for the inside linebacker. In a perfect scenario, Dallas would be able to get a veteran and draft a young new guy. The perfect guy to fill the role was Christian Jones, but he signed with the Detroit Lions on March 15 making him no longer an option. A good backup plan for a veteran would be to bring back NaVorro Bowman. Bowman had a great season last year for the Oakland Raiders tacking up 89 tackles, a team-high, while only starting in 10 games. Bowman is still an option for Dallas, but I wouldn’t expect that as a signing simply due to the fact that Dallas has been focusing elsewhere.[heading]The Draft[/heading]Dallas has said they want to use Jaylon Smith as the replacement for Hitchens, but that may prove troublesome, especially with expecting Sean Lee to stay healthy. So, Dallas must turn to the draft to make sure of a replacement. The absolute perfect player in the draft to get to fill the spot would be Roquan Smith from Georgia. Roquan lead the Bulldogs defense last year and even earned himself the Butkus award for his play. He would fit the Cowboys scheme well and would be a suitable replacement for the long-term benefit. That seems a bit unlikely though, so look for them to make a move to get Leighton Vander Esch out of Boise State. Esch is a former teammate with Demarcus Lawrence, so that would help him adapt well. He didn’t come from the same scheme the Cowboys run but plays with a reckless abandon that must be admired. That style of play does get him in trouble sometimes, getting him caught out of position, but that’s correctable.