NFC East Free Agency: Key Dallas Cowboys Players

Following the Cowboys Thanksgiving loss to the Panthers, I took a look at five upcoming free agents that needed to make the most out of Dallas’ remaining five games. Now, with just one game remaining for the 2015 season and free agency looming, let’s revisit the list as well as expand on it to further figure out the 2016 future of the Dallas Cowboys.

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Dallas Cowboys Key 2016 Free Agents Cowboys Blog - NFC East Free Agency: Key Dallas Cowboys Players

Greg Hardy DE

Hardy has just 1.5 sacks since Thanksgiving, but more importantly the controversial pass rusher has not caused any trouble to conclude the season. This will likely be the most important factor the Cowboys consider when deciding the value of resigning #76.

DeMarcus Lawrence has emerged as the player we all have been waiting to see in the past weeks, and a look at the film shows that Hardy has played a role in creating matchups for Lawrence to win.

Cowboys Nation spent a significant amount of time this offseason drooling over the potential of a 2015 defensive line that included DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford, Nick Hayden, Greg Hardy, and rookie Randy Gregory.

Another year of Hardy in 2016 paired with a healthy Gregory and Crawford as well as a more experienced Lawrence may finally have this defensive front playing to the consistent level we want to see.

Rolando McClain LB

A bright spot for the Cowboys this season has been a healthy Sean Lee. However, Lee’s “partner in crime” Rolando McClain will be a free agent this offseason. While the Cowboys have a core of young linebackers ready to fill in if needed, there is no underestimating the impact that McClain has had – being fourth on the team in tackles.

While McClain may fall victim to another tight cap situation for Dallas this offseason, I hope the Cowboys do everything in their power to bring the middle linebacker back to play alongside Sean Lee for 2016.

Jack Crawford DE

Crawford very quietly finished third on the team in sacks this season with four. We know how much Rod Marinelli values depth along his defensive front, and Crawford would be a great piece to keep in Dallas at the right price.

Robert Turbin RB

Another Cowboys offseason is almost upon us and with that will come plenty of discussion about the running back position. While Darren McFadden has emerged to take over the lead role, the Cowboys will still need more help behind DMC – who will be in his last year of a two-year deal in 2016.

Robert Turbin has seen limited time, 30 carries to be exact, but has made the most of them by running hard and showing his value in the Cowboys blocking scheme. While a combo of McFadden and Turbin even still leaves Dallas with concerns at running back, the two players could be a dangerous tandem once taking reps with Tony Romo at quarterback.

Morris Claiborne CB

Morris Claiborne’s contract time has come to an end in Dallas and for the vast majority of his time here, he has been a complete bust. However, a sudden turnaround here in 2015 by Claiborne will have the Cowboys considering bringing him back for 2016.

The Cowboys secondary will be another unit that gets a lot of offseason discussion, as Brandon Carr’s future with the team is also uncertain. Byron Jones appears to have found his home at safety, leaving Carr, Claiborne, Terance Mitchell and Deji Olatoye as the current corners.

Orlando Scandrick returns in 2016 and can play the outside and the slot with equal success. Between him and Jones, the Cowboys seemingly have half the field locked up. The other half, as well as the slot, will have to be covered by any combination of Carr, Claiborne, a draft pick, Mitchell or Olatoye.

Out of those five options, assuming Carr does return, keeping Claiborne to share some time with him as well as primarily focusing on the slot seems like the Cowboys best bet – if they can make the numbers work with Morris Claiborne.

James Hanna TE

Hanna has served as the Cowboys blocking tight end this season, and losing him would leave Dallas with just Gavin Escobar and rookie Geoff Swaim behind Jason Witten. Since Escobar is mostly a receiving tight end, the decision here for the Cowboys will come down to resigning Hanna or trusting their 7th round selection in Swaim.

Lance Dunbar RB

Until his season-ending injury in week 4 at the Saints, Dunbar was the Cowboys leading receiver out of the backfield. The speedy back has had a long injury history in Dallas, and will likely not return.

Rookie Lucky Whitehead has emerged as a “gadget player” the Cowboys can use for years to come in a similar role to Dunbar, while drafting a mid-round back will also likely be a priority.

So, you tell me, what 2015 free agents should return to the Cowboys in 2016? Leave a comment below, or shoot me a tweet to @ShoreSportsNJ!

Tell us what you think about “NFC East Free Agency: Key Dallas Cowboys Players” in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

What do you think?

Sean Martin

Written by Sean Martin

Born January 28th, 1996- Cowboys Super Bowl XXX. Point Boro Panther, Montclair State Red Hawk, and most importantly a proud member of Cowboys Nation! I host "Upon Further Review" on 90.3 WMSC FM and every Friday from 1-4 PM ET. Twitter: @SeanMartinNFL.


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