Linebacker Zachary Orr announced earlier this week that despite his spinal condition, he was healthy, ready to play, and coming out of retirement as a 25-year-old free agent. Should Dallas be tempted to take a chance on him?
Orr was forced to announce his retirement from the NFL on January 20, 2017 due to a congenital neck/spine condition that ended his season 2016 season along with his career.
The 6', 225 lb linebacker went undrafted out of North Texas, but found a home with the Baltimore Ravens when he made their 53-man roster and finished second on the team with 7 special teams tackles in 2014. Orr began the 2016 season as the Ravens starting weak-side linebacker, and had 132 combined tackles, 5 passes defended, and 3 interceptions. That was good enough to be a Second-team All-Pro.
Yesterday, June 28, 2017, Orr announced on Good Morning Football that after further diagnoses he will be coming out of retirement to play in the 2017 NFL season.
Since the Ravens did not place a tender on him, not because they didn't want Orr but because they didn't expect him to ever play again, the linebacker is now an unrestricted free agent.
Orr has reportedly been contacted by at least eight different teams already, and will be paying a visit to the Detroit Lions today.
Besides Detroit, the other seven teams reportedly interested in Orr aren't publicly known, but given that the Cowboys have a need for a dominating linebacker, they could very well be in the mix.
But should they be?
On the plus side, Orr's numbers trended up in each of his three seasons, and his 2016 was incredible. While David Harris will probably remain the linebacker signing of the preseason, Orr's numbers suggest a comparable talent. Also, if Orr can indeed stay healthy, if his condition doesn't effect his ability or mentality, he could be a huge long term boon for the Cowboys' roster. He could potentially even be the successor to 31-year-old Sean Lee.
On the minus side, Orr has a congenial spinal condition that means he has a vertebrae in his neck/spine that never fully formed. According to Orr, his medical prognosis is that he's not at any more risk of injury than anyone else on the field, unless he sustains a herniated disc. A herniated disc is what sidelined him last season and led to the discovery of his condition, and temporary retirement. So, there's a good amount of risk.
Right now, if the Cowboys and Orr can meet to talk about a contract, they should. With so many other teams apparently interested, it looks like it's a sellers' market for Orr. If the Cowboys can tempt him in with a short-term deal, it could be a perfect fit. If not, let another team take on the risk of signing Orr long-term out of the gate.
Orr is undoubtedly talented enough to be a huge asset on defense, but he does so under the specter of a potentially career ending health condition. He deserves another chance to play in the NFL, and the Cowboys should seriously consider taking a look at facilitating his inspiring comeback. But only if the deal is right.
Source: Dan Graziano - ESPN · Photo Credit: KEYSTONE PRESS