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NFC East Free Agency: Key Dallas Cowboys Players

Following the Cowboys loss to the Panthers, I took a look at five upcoming that needed to make the most out of Dallas' remaining five games. Now, with just one game remaining for the 2015 season and 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 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.

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.

spent a significant amount of time this drooling over the potential of a 2015 that included DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford, , 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 . However, Lee's “partner in crime” will be a 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 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 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 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.

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 at .

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 will be another unit that gets a lot of offseason discussion, as 's future with the team is also uncertain. appears to have found his home at , leaving Carr, Claiborne, Terance Mitchell and as the current corners.

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 this season, and losing him would leave Dallas with just and rookie behind . 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 in Dallas, and will likely not return.

Rookie 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!

Sean Martin
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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