Vander Esch returns to Cowboys with safety, long snapper

March 18, 2022 GMT

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — The Dallas Cowboys are bringing back linebacker Leighton Vander Esch along with safety Malik Hooker and long snapper Jake McQuaide.

Vander Esch will play on a one-year contract worth up to $3 million after the fifth-year option on the 2018 first-round pick’s rookie contract wasn’t picked up. The Cowboys announced all three deals Friday.

After a strong rookie season that led to his only Pro Bowl, Vander Esch never has matched that production while dealing with injuries. He had surgery for a narrowing of the spinal cord after a neck injury limited him to nine games in 2019.

Vander Esch broke a collarbone in the 2020 opener and was limited to 10 games that season, then his role was diminished last year with first-round draft pick Micah Parsons emerging as the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.

The Cowboys signed Hooker last summer after four injury-filled seasons in Indianapolis for the 2017 first-round pick. Hooker played in 15 games with three starts for the Cowboys last season.

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McQuaide replaced L.P. Ladouceur last year after Ladouceur spent 16 years as the Dallas long snapper. McQuaide was with special teams coach John Fassel with the Los Angeles Rams.

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