(Editor's Note: Throughout the off-season, DallasCowboys.com staff writers will take a closer look at the roster, analyzing players' impact last season and how each fits into the team's 2016 plans. Today's Roster Rundown entry features linebacker Andrew Gachkar.)
Name: Andrew Gachkar
Height/Weight: 6-2 / 240
Experience: 5 seasons
Key stat: In his first season in Dallas, Gachkar tied for second on the team with eight special teams tackles.
Contract Status: Signed through 2016.
2015 Impact:Was brought in to be a better option at linebacker as well as be a core special teamer. Showed the ability to play a couple of different spots as needed. Had to fill in for Sean Lee at times during the season. Very competitive player and high football intelligence. Better quickness than true playing speed. Plays with surprising range to get to the outside to make stops. Good reactions. Struggles at times with his change of direction and balance. Hand use helps him to get off blocks more than athletic ability. Can finish plays when in position to make them. Not going to miss many tackles in space. Wrap up and get man to the ground type of player. Doesn't hurt you in coverage. Plays well whether he is in man or zone. Good awareness and understanding of his assignments and responsibilities. Is not going to give you much as a blitzer. Just not that type of player. Steady and consistent. Not often fooled on plays. Nice communication skill with his teammates. Can see by the way that he goes about his job that he cares. Always into the game.
Where He Fits:Was an upgrade for the team in several spots. Can line up and play all of the linebacker spots and there is not a huge dropoff in play. Wasn't a liability as a player on special teams or coming off the bench. This was an area where they have had some issues in the past. Type of player you need on the 53-man roster that is not going to hurt you.
Rob Phillips:The Cowboys signed Gachkar to a two-year deal last spring to provide linebacker depth and contribute on multiple special teams units. He delivered eight tackles on special teams and 13 on defense while playing 11 percent of the snaps. He made one start at strong-side linebacker – Week 4 at New Orleans – and his absence was felt on the second play of overtime, right after he limped off on the field with a foot injury, when Drew Brees found C.J. Spiller on a wheel route for the 80-yard winning touchdown. The Cowboys have decisions to make at linebacker with starter Rolando McClain and part-time starter Kyle Wilber set to be free agents. Gachkar remains under contract through next season and he has experience at multiple linebacker spots. That's what you need in the rotation.