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Mailbag: Tagging Dez Again in 2016? Impact Of Hardy And McClain's Absence?

ERIC UPAHESCONDIDO, CA
If Dez and the Cowboys can't come to terms on a long-term deal, he plays under the franchise tag this year. What are the chances they franchise him again in 2016?

David: There's still a lot in play before we can determine that. If Dez holds out, he could theoretically request a no-franchise clause, seeking to block the Cowboys from tagging him again next year. If the team has that capability, though, I absolutely believe they'll tag him again. He's simply too valuable to let him hit the open market if you don't have to.

Rob: It's hard for me to get my mind around the mere possibility that Bryant, the heart and soul of this team, would skip Week 1 vs. the Giants if a deal doesn't get done today. Same thing with the prospect of another franchise tag a year from now – I just can't see it. Sure, they could tag him next March, but doing this dance next July 15 would mean another seven months passed without a compromise. Plus, if at least one of these other top receivers were to sign and reset the market within the next year, that would presumably aid negotiations. We'll know if this is all moot by 3 p.m.

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DON WOODLOGAN, UT
With two starters out for the first month, how will that affect the start of the season and what will our ultimate record be as a result?

David:Hardy's absence doesn't do much to change my opinion of this defense – because we knew from the start that he'd be missing. McClain's suspension is a blow, but – again – it's hardly a surprise to hear that he won't be available. Considering it's just for four games, I trust that the personnel on hand can handle their absence, especially at linebacker. The combo of Jasper Brinkley and Anthony Hitchens is a perfectly adequate replacement. Someone on the defensive front will need to up his game while Hardy sits out.

Rob: The Cowboys have been prepared since March that Hardy would miss time. Rolando McClain's suspension hurts the middle of the defense, particularly in the run game, but Sean Lee's return adds some major stability back to the linebacker group. The question will be how the young edge rushers, DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, perform early in the season. I also expect Tyrone Crawford to be more disruptive from the under tackle spot.

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