Despite the current lack of funds, the cap-challenged Dallas Cowboys appear to be close to adding an extra body on defense.
NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported that former Detroit Lions linebacker Justin Durant plans to sign a two-year contract with the Cowboys once they create more cap space.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram noted that Durant’s visit amounted to nothing more than an “informational” meeting because the Cowboys, with just $102,000 in cap room, lack the finances to officially make a move. The same applied to visits by free-agent safeties Michael Huff and Will Allen. Apparently Durant’s visit went well enough for the six-year veteran to agree to wait while the Cowboys get their books adjusted.
That likely will come as the team negotiates a multi-year deal with pass rusher Anthony Spencer. The Cowboys also have to sign their draft class.
Durant gives the Cowboys a solid linebacker to add to Monte Kiffin’s 4-3 defense. He started 26 games over the past two seasons for the Lions and racked up 103 tackles in 2012. The 27-year-old figures to start opposite Bruce Carter with Sean Lee occupying the middle.
The Lions made little effort to re-sign Durant, but he went out of his way to thank the team and city on Twitter.
“Shout out to Detroit man I wanna thank y’all for the luv and support y’all showed me the past couple years I really appreciate it,” Durant wrote Tuesday. “I thank the organization for allowing me the opportunity to play the last 2 years I am forever grateful.”
RELATED: Dallas Cowboys agree to terms with free agent linebacker
The salary cap-challenged Dallas Cowboys made a ripple today (Tuesday) by reportedly agreeing to terms with former Detroit Lions linebacker Justin Durant.
The team is expected to sign the seven-year veteran to a two-year deal once it creates more space under the salary cap.
Durant started 14 games last season. He finished second on the team with 103 tackle while playing outside linebacker in the 4-3 defense, which the Cowboys will use this season after employing the 3-4 scheme every season since Bill Parcells installed it in 2005.
Second-year pro Kyle Wilber is projected as the starter at strong-side linebacker for Dallas in 2013, but the club now has two veterans to push him in Durant and Alex Albright.
A seven-year veteran, Durant spent the last two seasons with the Lions after he started his NFL career with a four-year stint with Jacksonville. Durant, who carries 240 pounds on 6-foot-1 frame, turns 28 in September.
If the Dallas Cowboys appreciate Dez Bryant’s newfound maturity off the field, they’re going to love his on-field goals for 2013.
After last year’s breakout season, Bryant believes he’s “still scratching the surface.”
Can he bypass Calvin Johnson as the NFL’s top receiver while becoming the first player in NFL history to reach 2,000 yards in a single season?
“I feel like it can be a lot more,” Bryant told ESPN-Dallas. “That’s just being honest. I honestly feel like [2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns] can potentially happen.”
While Bryant’s elite talent is beyond dispute, former Oakland Raiders great Tim Brown recently questioned the physical receiver’s ability to make it through 16 games with an out-of-control, “kamikaze” style of play.
Bryant risked his long-term NFL future by playing through a fractured finger in December, closing out the season with a lower-back injury that left him wheelchair-bound as he exited the stadium.
Yet to run routes this offseason due to the back injury, Bryant could end up missing all or part of organized team activities this offseason. There’s no concern that the injury will linger into training camp.
Don’t expect him to adopt a more cautious, less physical approach to avoid future injuries. “That’s just how I play. That’s my type of game. That’s my style of play,” Bryant said via the Dallas Morning News. “I’m going to keep playing that way. I don’t think about injuries. I just go out there and play.”
The final eight games of Bryant’s 2012 season project to 1,758 yards and 20 touchdowns across a full season. In an increasingly pass-heavy NFL, he’s capable of reaching the 2,000-yard in a best-case scenario.
The key is to maintain that production level while staying out of the trainers’ room.