The Dallas Cowboys are coming off an incredibly frustrating 2021 NFL season. Although they entered the year with a packed roster and high expectations, they couldn’t get past the first round of the playoffs. The San Francisco 49ers eliminated them – in Dallas, to make matters even more embarrassing. However, the saving grace of 2021 for the Cowboys is that they drafted one of the best defensive players in the NFL – Micah Parsons.
Parsons won Defensive Rookie of the Year and proved invaluable in several different positions for Dallas. Without his presence on defense, it’s hard to imagine the Cowboys would have had so much success in the regular season.
Micah Parsons is the ultimate Swiss army knife
Parsons was drafted as a linebacker. However, it didn’t take long for the Cowboys to realize that he can be so much more than a stereotypical LB in their defense.
When star passer Demarcus Lawrence was injured, Parsons was repeatedly asked to slide to the defensive end. Typically, asking a rookie to switch positions just a few games into their NFL career is a recipe for disaster. However, that was not the case for Parsons.
Parsons thrived as a passing thrower. He finished his rookie season with 13.0 sacks, 30 quarterback hits and 20 tackles for a loss. The former Nittany Lion quickly established himself as the Cowboys’ top defensive end and center linebacker, all within a matter of weeks.
Micah Parsons has a message for the Cowboys coaching staff
The Cowboys have several important questions to answer this offseason. They are currently over the salary cap and have a few tricky steps to take to save the cap.
With that in mind, another question that needs to be answered is what to do with Parsons. Should he go full-time to DE? Should he stay at LB? Should he continue to mix the two?
According to Parsons himself, he wants to play everywhere.
“I really love everywhere,” Parsons said on The Rich Eisen Show (via the Dallas Morning News). “I just believe I have to line up with the best. I want to be the best over the best. We were going against Deebo [Samuel]; I wanted this match with him every time. Wherever Deebo went, that’s where I wanted to go. Against Minnesota, I played linebacker, and wherever Dalvin Cook went, that’s where I wanted to go. I want it to be the best of the best.
“When we play Patrick Mahomes, and they’re not really going to throw the ball 18-20 times a game, but they will pass, so put me against their left tackle. Or right tackle. And I’ll pass rush. It’s the best way for me to have an impact on the game.”
It gives the Cowboys a ton of flexibility
Parsons taking on this hybrid role style is great news for Dallas. Not only does this provide physical flexibility on game day, but it also allows the Cowboys front office to move aggressively with their cap-saving moves.
Cutting Demarcus Lawrence, for example, becomes more realistic. Dallas can simply ask Parsons to replace him at DE if he doesn’t land a replacement through the draft or free agency.
The Cowboys could also explore moving expensive linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. Either way, Parsons being who he is, the Cowboys have an abundance of options moving forward.
All statistics courtesy of Professional Football Reference.
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