Luke Gifford was the Cowboys' busiest special teams player last season, leading the teams in total snaps. Back in Dallas for 2022 on a new one-year contract, will Gifford finally become a bigger part of the linebacker rotation?
C.J. Goodwin may be the special teams ace in Dallas but Gifford's 368 total snaps topped his 332 by a good margin. They were the only two Cowboys with over 300 special teams appearances in 2021.
Gifford had one of the standout plays from last year with his blocked punt and recovery in the Cowboys' win over the New England Patriots. But with Dallas needing help at linebacker in 2022, it'd be nice for Gifford to get a new highlight moment from another phase of the game.
With just $1.1 million and $150k guaranteed in his new contract, Luke clearly isn't being relied on for a major defensive role. If anything, Dallas left minimal dead money potential in the deal in case Gifford wouldn't even make the 2022 roster.
Barring any late-offseason free agent additions that leaves Gifford as the next man up. He should get plenty of work this summer, likely much of it with the first-team defense, and who knows how that could trickle down into September?
We've been intrigued by Luke Gifford ever since his debut in the 2019 preseason. He was flying around the field against San Francisco that August and making plays like Vander Esch had the previous season as an outstanding, Pro Bowl rookie. Unfortunately, a high-ankle sprain later in that game cut his time short.
Playing in just six games as a rookie and eight games in 2020, last year was a big step for Gifford to remain healthy and dress in 16 games. Now with other linebackers potentially missing practice reps and even games with injuries, can Luke step up and prove he's more than a special teams standout?