The Dallas Cowboys will be adding a familiar face to the team just in time for training camp. On Thursday, the team announced the signing of Justin Durant. Cornerback Jeremiah McKinnon was released in a corresponding roster move. Durant, 31, has experience in Rod Marinelli’s 4-3 defense, and will be looking to provide depth for the team in 2017.
News of Durant’s signing comes just two days before the Dallas Cowboys report for training camp. Terms of the deal were not immediately made available, but Durant’s contract is likely a 1-year deal with little guaranteed money.
Justin Durant, LB:
Durant’s signing means that he will be a Dallas Cowboy for the 4th time in the last 5 seasons. After spending his first 6 seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Detroit Lions, Durant joined the Dallas Cowboys in 2013. He was a part-time player for the team in 2013. However, Durant stepped into a prominent role for the team in 2014, after Sean Lee was lost for the season to a knee injury. Durant recorded 49 tackles, 4 pass deflections, 1 interception, and 2 forced fumbles in six games for the team, before Durant himself was lost for the season to injury.
After the season, Durant signed a free-agent deal with the Atlanta Falcons. In 2015, Durant recorded 89 tackles, 3 pass deflections, and a forced fumble in 12 starts for Atlanta. He spent a good portion of the 2016 offseason as a free agent, but re-joined the Cowboys late in the offseason. Durant appeared in 13 games last season for the team.
In 2017, Durant will look to provide depth and veteran leadership for the team. Durant can help take the pressure off Jaylon Smith, who is looking to return from his knee injury. Furthermore, Durant can provide insurance for the club as Damien Wilson faces potential discipline for his off-the-field issues. As Rob Phillips from the Dallas Cowboys points out, Durant could even be injury insurance for Mark Nzeocha. Nzeocha is currently recovering from a knee scope.
Justin Durant signing adds depth at LB, especially if Mark Nzeocha (June knee scope) isn't quite ready for the start of camp.
— Rob Phillips (@robphillips3) July 20, 2017
While Durant may be past his prime at the age of 31, he still has the leadership skills, position versatility and scheme familiarity to be a positive addition for the club. Just hours away from the official start of training camp, the Cowboys could do worse in a veteran free agent.