With limited cap space and more pressing players to re-sign or extend, the Dallas Cowboys aren’t expected to be part of the Anthony Hitchens bidding war in the upcoming free agency. The Indianapolis Colts on the other hand will probably be one of the first to contact the linebacker.
Hitchens, the 119th overall pick in 2014 by the Cowboys, is hitting unrestricted free agency after four seasons with the team, in which he appeared 60 times, only missing games last season. He has become a valuable starter for Dallas as a middle linebacker, although he can plugged in other roles along the middle line if necessary. Overall, in four seasons he has one interception, 9 pass deflections 3.5 sacks and 312 tackles in four seasons with the team.
So if he’s been doing while, why is he expendable? Simple math. The Cowboys, as always, don’t have too much money to spend in free agency, with around $19 million in cap space right now. Their main two contracts to deal with this offseason belong to Demarcus Lawrence and Zack Martin. Lawrence finished with 14.5 sacks, and will probably receive the franchise tag in the next two weeks. Martin, a 4-time Pro Bowl guard and 2-time All-Pro still has one more year on his deal, but the Cowboys want to lock him up for a long time. There are five right guards in the NFL making $10 million a season on average; Martin wants to join that group.
As for Hitchens, he’ll be closer to teams with a lot of cap space, like the Colts, heading into the 2018 season with plenty of fresh hope and especially the $74 million in cap space they have to spend. Hitchens will probably try to make it into the top 10 of inside linebacker earners, which means over $5 million a season on average, while the top 3 (Luke Kuechly, Alec Ogletree and Bobby Wagner), all making over $10 million a season, seems a bit too high of a demand.