Dallas Cowboys: Will Witherspoon

Free-agency series: Linebackers

March, 8, 2013
Eighth in a 10-part series breaking down the Cowboys' free-agency needs, position by position:



Who will be the Cowboys' best linebacker next season?


Discuss (Total votes: 3,220)

Who’s on the roster: Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Caleb McSurdy, Dan Connor, Kyle Wilber, Alex Albright, Orie Lemon

Analysis: In Lee and Carter, the Cowboys appear set at the Mike (middle) and Will (weakside) linebacker spots. However, both players are coming off injuries and must prove they can stay healthy. The Sam (strong side) is in question, but Albright looks to be the best in-house candidate. Wilber didn’t play much as a rookie but has athletic ability. Connor could be a cap casualty soon and Lemon might not be tendered as an exclusive-rights free agent. McSurdy is coming off an Achilles injury but could be an OK fit as a backup. Just based on numbers, the Cowboys will need to add some players here.

Ed Werder joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss Tony Romo's potential contract extension, the Cowboys' plans for Anthony Spencer and how Joe Flacco's final month of the season impacted the Cowboys' offseason.

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NFL free agents of interest: Ernie Sims, Chase Blackburn, Keith Rivers, Will Witherspoon, Geno Hayes

Need meter: 7. When the Cowboys ran the 3-4, they generally needed bigger linebackers to withstand more direct play with the offensive linemen. With the 4-3 that changes to a degree, with speed being a top priority. But, as with every position in free agency, don’t look for the Cowboys to spend a lot of money. Not with Lee entering the final year of his deal and Carter up the year after him. Sims played well after joining the Cowboys following Lee’s toe injury. Sims is a better fit for a 4-3 and would be a solid backup. The Cowboys had mild interest in Blackburn last year, and he did some nice things for the Giants.

Introducing no-name Titans pass rush

October, 7, 2010
IRVING, Texas -- Does the name Dave Ball ring a bell?

Don’t feel bad if it doesn’t. It’s not like Ball did anything during his first five NFL seasons to merit much attention.

But he’s suddenly emerged as the star of an elite pass-rushing unit in Tennessee. The Titans are tied for the NFL lead with 16 sacks. Ball, a 6-foot-5, 255-pound defensive end, has matched his previous career total with 4.5 sacks in the first four games.

The Titans’ other sacks leaders – defensive end Jason Babin (3.5) and linebacker Will Witherspoon (3.0) – are journeymen, not guys with track records as premier pass-rushers. How does this group give offensive lines so much trouble?

“They’re relentless,” Wade Phillips said. “They’re very quick off the football. They rush the passer basically every down, but they knock ‘em back enough to play the run well. Some teams can’t do that. They can’t play the run if they rush the passer, but they play the run on the way to the passer and do a good job of that.

“They’ve done it consistently four games. They’re very active and they are relentless. They’re coming hard every play.”

The Titans’ pass rush will be tested Sunday. The Cowboys have allowed a league-low one sack this season