Every so often K.C. Chiefs general manager Brett Veach seems to pull off a trade or acquisition for a former high-round draft pick that hasn’t quite worked out with another team for a very low cost. The list includes names like Reggie Ragland, Emmanuel Ogbah, and Taco Charlton among others.
Well, another potential name for Chiefs fans to keep an eye on is Dallas Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch who had his fifth-year option decline by the team Monday morning. Vander Esch is a former first round pick from the 2018 NFL draft who flashed for the Cowboys early on in his career, recording 102 solo tackles, 2 TFL. 2 INT, and 7 PD in 16 games as a rookie. However, Vander Esch has struggle to stay healthy since then as he only appeared in 19 games over the last two seasons.
In addition to being often injured, the Cowboys also drafted two highly-regarded linebackers in the 2021 NFL Draft in Penn State’s Micah Parsons and LSU’s Jabril Cox. Obviously, drafting two new linebackers doesn’t bode well for Vander Esch’s future in Dallas. That being said, The Kansas City Chiefs would be smart to check in on the Dallas linebacker’s availability.
The Chiefs did just draft a linebacker in Missouri’s Nick Bolton and while head coach Andy Reid did say that Bolton can play all three linebacker positions, he’s best suited as a middle linebacker whereas someone like Vander Esch can play the SAM role that was left behind by Damien Wilson who signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency. Vander Esch has been one of the better coverage linebackers in the league when healthy as he earned an 81.0 overall coverage grade on 90+ targets in 2018 according to PFF. Vander Esch has also proven to be an efficient tackler in Dallas who would surely bolster Kansas City’s linebacker group.
Given Brett Veach’s love for former high-round picks and the fact Vander Esch wouldn’t be too expensive to acquire because he’s on a rookie deal and just had his option declined, fans should keep an eye on this one.
It’s also worth noting that Dallas could use some help on the offensive line and we all know the Chiefs have a plethora of offensive linemen and not all of them can make the team. Maybe the Chiefs could offer one of their depth pieces like Nick Allegretti or Laurent Duvernay-Tardif in a post June 1st trade if the team feels like he’s expendable? The Chiefs could always throw in a late-round pick, too.
Regardless if it happens or not, the idea of bringing in Vander Esch and giving him a change of scenery where his services would be welcomed is definitely intriguing.