Leighton Vander Esch not expected to have 5th-year option picked up
The 2021 NFL season could be a contract year for Leighton Vander Esch.
Monday at 3:00 PM ET is the deadline for teams to exercise 5th-year contract options on players. The Dallas Cowboys are not expected to exercise their option on Vander Esch, according to the Dallas Morning News.
The 25-year-old was a first-round pick (No. 19 overall) by the Cowboys in 2018. He was an animal during his rookie season, racking up 140 tackles and two interceptions. But then he missed 13 games over the next two seasons due to neck and collarbone injuries.
Vander Esch is set to make just over $2 million in 2021. His fifth-year option was for $9.1 million.
Just because the Cowboys may not exercise the option for Vander Esch does not mean this will be his final season with the team. He can become an unrestricted free agent if the Cowboys don’t exercise his option. But he could still ultimately return to the team on a long-term deal, or potentially a 1-year contract for less than what his option would have been.
Vander Esch would also likely have no shortage of suitors if he hits the market.