IRVING, Texas - With so many expected free agents, including two of the best offensive players in football, the Cowboys have plenty of questions to answer here this offseason.
Some of them will be answered here before the start of the free-agent signing period on March 10. Others might take a few more weeks, and perhaps after the draft.
For now, DallasCowboys.com has come up with 10 pressing questions the Cowboys are facing this offseason and writers Bryan Broaddus, David Helman and Nick Eatman will try their best to answer them, giving a forecast of what could happen here in what should be an entertaining offseason.
Today's question focuses on one of the more versatile players on the Cowboys' roster.
Where Should Dwayne Harris Rank On Cowboys' Priority List?
Bryan: It is not often that you hear players and coaches talk about football players in elite terms, but for what Dwayne Harris does for this football team it could be consider elite when you look at the entire package. I understand why fans would disagree with me for saying that I consider Dwayne Harris an elite player, because there were times this season where Harris did have issues with ball security -- and that is all they focused on. But this is where you are missing the real story. He lead the team in special teams tackles, he was the primary return man, and when this offense was running the ball it was his blocking at the point of attack that helped convert several key third down conversions in those crucial victories down the stretch. Of roughly 1,500 offensive and special teams plays, Harris played almost 500 of those snaps. Just let that settle in for a minute and try to gauge how you replace that on the roster? Pound-for-pound he is one of the best players in the league and it would foolish for this organization to allow him to take that talent to another city.
Nick:I think this would be an example of not getting to keep everyone. His market value will be interesting because Harris doesn't blow you away on stats, but if you figure that he's a wide receiver who can block, he's a return specialist and covers kicks, he's not easy to replace. But after paying Cole Beasley, the Cowboys have their top three receivers set, plus Devin Street should be ready to jump into the fourth spot. As a returner, Harris was pretty good last year but not dynamic and since kick returning is becoming obsolete, I just don't know if it's a spot you spend big money for. Don't get me wrong, I like Dwayne Harris and I think the Cowboys need him, but this might be a spot where they can't overspend. But one thing the Cowboys must figure out, is if they let Harris go, how many guys it will take to replace him. If it's two or even three, then maybe it will be worth it. Personally, I don't see the Cowboys getting into a bidding war for him.
David:Harris was taken No. 176 overall in the 2011 draft, and he developed into one of the better special teamers in the league. He was nearly a Pro Bowl-caliber return man in 2013, and he's been one of this team's top coverage guys for a while now. You'd also be remiss if you forgot about the handful of impact plays he's made for this offense, such as his game-winning touchdown catch against Minnesota in 2013. All of that said, the Cowboys just gave $13.6 million to a guy with a very similar skillset in Cole Beasley. No, Beasley isn't a kick coverage ace like Harris, but he can handle return duties, and the Cowboys can find other inexpensive pieces to handle special teams tasks. Honestly, I'm guessing Harris likely wants an opportunity to play a bigger role on offense, and I doubt he'd get it here. The Cowboys' top three receivers are set in stone, and they'll want to see what they have in Devin Street, as well. I'm not trying to say Harris won't be missed, I'm just saying that these are the types of limitations that the salary cap puts on NFL teams. The value that you'd lose in Harris, you can hopefully replenish with prudent decisions in the draft, and Harris should get a shot at a larger role with another team. This is a business, after all.