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Mailbag: Possible Changes On Special Teams?

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With a new coach in place, do you see the Cowboys doing a major overhaul on special teams, and do you see that being done by way of draft or free agency? - STEVE CRAIG / HENDERSON, NV

David: I absolutely see them doing that. Right this moment, I don't think you can assume anything for certain about the way John Fassel wants to go with this. Kai Forbath and L.P. Ladouceur are free agents, as are several of the team's core special teamers. Forbath has an opportunity to build this thing from the ground up, and I assume that's what he's going to do.

Rob: Well, the late rounds of the draft are always important from a special teams standpoint. Prospects in that range and undrafted free agents definitely have to show value in that area to make a team. From an X's and O's standpoint, I'm sure John Fassel will change some things. But it's hard to remake special teams strictly from a personnel standpoint because it's typically not the primary focus in free agency or the draft for teams. It's more about scheme, mindset and player development. I liked what Fassel said this week about instilling a mindset that special teams guys might not be starters on offense or defense, but they're starters in the kicking game. Approaching it with the same value and urgency is critical.

Aside from the more obvious answers (Dak Prescott, for example), what player(s) would you least like the Cowboys to part ways with in free agency? - MARK THOMPSON / WASHINGTON, DC

David: Is Byron Jones an obvious answer? Because although I know he'll be expensive to hang on to, I think his abilities in coverage are incredibly valuable. If that's too obvious, then how about Joe Looney? His locker room presence speaks for itself, but he's also a capable starter and a versatile backup for that offensive line. I'd like to see him come back.

Rob: Yeah, Dak's not going anywhere. I think Sean Lee could help this defense through its transition. We'll see what he decides about his football future – he's said he'll probably make a decision closer to April about whether he intends to keep playing – and obviously the new staff comes in with their own evaluations of scheme and personnel. But the way Lee stepped in for Leighton Vander Esch down the stretch last year, plus his leadership, were valuable.

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