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Mailbag: Rico Gathers' Roster Chances? Most Significant Offseason Departure?

W. DIENERTPHOENIX, AZ

Which player loss from last year's team, whether by retirement, free agency, suspension or other, will be felt the most by this year's team, both in what that player brought to the team and also, based on what is on hand, the hardest or least likely to be replaced or duplicated in terms of performance, leadership, stats, etc. going forward?

Bryan: It would be easy for me to say that the Romo loss would be the most difficult to replace, but Prescott appears to be on the path that handling that. I would have loved to see them re-sign Terrell McClain and let him have another season with Maliek Collins but that's not happening. Those two worked really well together and I could see them having a hard time replacing him, especially if Cedric Thornton struggles again. 

Rob: The secondary will miss Brandon Carr's experience and durability, but they did add a lot of talent in the draft. Tony Romo's departure hurts the quarterback depth, but we all knew he wasn't going to be the backup for another year. I'll say Ronald Leary signing with Denver, coupled with Doug Free's retirement. La'el Collins return from toe surgery fills one spot, most likely right tackle, but it's uncertain who plays left guard. The Cowboys have worked multiple players at that spot this offseason. The offensive line is great, and it must continue to be great for the offense to play the way it played last year: controlling the pace and staying ahead of the chains.

REUBEN JOHNSONNASHVILLE, TN

I know the Cowboys have invested a good deal of time in Rico Gathers, but if someone like Noah Brown or Andy Jones really shows up in training camp practices as well as preseason games receiving and on special teams coverage units, could they actually bump Gathers off the 53-man roster? If cut, do you think Gathers would clear waivers and be placed back on the practice squad?

Bryan: There really isn't much film to go on if you wanted to claim Gathers. It would have to be a gut feeling that every tight end the Cowboys have released turned into a good player, in some cases a great player. I have a feeling that he will make the final 53, but with Hanna and Swaim back in the mix, I don't see him being active.

Rob: Geoff Swaim and James Hanna could be back from injury for the start of training camp. If so, Gathers has a lot of competition for a backup tight end spot. He's done well this last year, but he's still a work in progress. Do the Cowboys have the luxury of holding a spot for him? Let's see what happens in preseason. It's a good question because if he doesn't make the final cut, I don't know that he'd automatically clear waivers this year.

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