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Mailbag: 5 Potential Breakout Players In 2021?


With the Cowboys being cash strapped, I am curious which young unproven guys do you think could possibly move up into quality backups, special teams or even starter roles. Maybe Bradlee Anae, Ron'Dell Carter, Francis Bernard, Luke Gifford or Reggie Robinson II? — CARL STANLEY / ARLINGTON, TX

Rob: Of the group you mentioned, Carter played the most snaps and might have the best chance for more playing time next season. All should have a chance to compete for regular spots on special teams. As for major roles on defense, it's hard to envision that, even though there are impending free agents at all of their positions. I'm probably looking more at two draft picks, Neville Gallimore and Tyler Biadasz, to take the biggest steps forward in the lineup this year.

David: I think the names you listed are spot-on. I have a feeling Bernard and Gifford could be doing a lot of heavy lifting on special teams in particular, and I really hope we get to see Anae get a larger look on defense. I'll throw in one more name that gets forgotten: I wonder if Sean McKeon could develop into this team's primary blocking tight end, as well as a solid special teamer.

It was my understanding that a contract agreement was just about complete between Dak and the Cowboys last year right up against the July 15 cutoff time and was told then if they had a little more time the deal would have been done. What happened to that deal? wouldn't that be a good starting point now? — DOUG TURNER / MOORESVILLE, NC

Rob: Negotiations did pick up leading up to last year's deadline, and Dak himself spoke to Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones, but I'm not sure how close a deal ultimately was at that point. I agree that both sides probably have a very good idea of where the other stands by now. Length was (and maybe still is) a sticking point, as was the uncertainty of the league's financial landscape due to the pandemic. But that hasn't stopped the Cowboys from making offers in the past. It just hasn't been the right deal for everyone yet, obviously.

David: That's a really great point that I've been thinking about a lot over the last two weeks. We were told they came really close to getting something done last summer, but it doesn't seem like that has helped anyone this spring. That leads me to believe that someone was exaggerating the truth, or someone thinks the negotiations have changed dramatically over the last eight months. It's probably a little bit of both.

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