Dan Quinn is beginning to finalize his defensive staff for the Dallas Cowboys. Having been named successor to Mike Nolan at defensive coordinator, narrowly beating out defensive assistant George Edwards in the process, Quinn immediately got to work making expected changes to the position coaches. His latest move will see him reunite with another one of his former staffers, a rollover from his stint as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons, opting to add Aden Durde as Cowboys defensive line coach -- sources confirm to CBS Sports.
Durde beat out Giff Smith to land the position, Smith having interviewed with the Cowboys as well and garnered interest after spending time as defensive line coach of the Los Angeles Chargers and from his work with the Seattle Seahawks under Gus Bradley -- Quinn having succeeded Bradley as the driver of the famed Legion of Boom defense. Durde joined the Falcons in 2018 in the team's defense quality control role before being promoted by Quinn to outside linebackers coach in 2020.
A former linebacker himself, Durde had NFL stints as a player for the Carolina Panthers and Kansas City Chiefs in the early 2000s, mixing in some international play as well before retiring and entering the coaching ranks following the 2008 season. It's no secret the Cowboys could use some refinement at the linebacker position, a point Durde can obviously help with, but his new role will be keyed into getting the defensive line in Dallas where it needs to be. He's the second position coach to be brought over from the Falcons by Quinn, the first being secondary coach Joe Whitt, Jr., that move leading to the expected parting of ways with Maurice Linguist.
Linguist will reportedly sign on as co-defensive coordinator at the University of Michigan, per multiple reports, returning to the collegiate ranks where he took up residence before joining Mike McCarthy in the 2020 Cowboys regime change.
This still leaves one or two unanswered questions for Dallas, the main one being the status of Edwards, whom the Cowboys would love to keep on board going forward. The plan is to potentially expand Edwards' role on defense beyond defensive assistant, and talks have been had in that regard, sources noted to CBS Sports ahead of the hiring of Quinn. While amicable to remaining on staff, the former Vikings defensive coordinator is now fielding interest from the Chicago Bears for their vacancy at DC and, should he accept the invitation to interview, there's nothing the Cowboys can do to stop it from occurring.
They can only hope he doesn't leave, while possibly giving him financial and role incentives to stay put.
Hiring Durde means the Cowboys now have their defensive coordinator, secondary coach and defensive line coach nailed down, but the formal position of linebackers coach remains a mystery -- as does Leon Lett's role as long-time assistant defensive line coach. It is expected the final decision or two will come down soon, as the team works to iron out its defensive coaching situation so they can turn their attention to the elephant in the room other sides of their equation, namely signing Dak Prescott and making sure offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and special teams coordinator John Fassel opt to forego leaving for the rival Philadelphia Eagles.