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Star Evaluation: After Midseason Benching, Mayowa Finished Strong

The roster turnover is about to begin. Free agency opens in less than one month, and the 2017 NFL Draft isn't far behind it. Over the next two months, the Cowboys will lose and replace a sizable portion of their roster.

For every new face, however, there are dozens of familiar ones who will return to begin a new campaign. From established veterans to second-year players, the vast majority of the Cowboys' 2017 team is already on the roster. In the coming weeks, the staff of will preview those players, analyzing where they've been and where they're going.

Today we'll continue the series with defensive end Benson Mayowa.

What's Been Good:The good part for Mayowa was that he was the most productive pass-rusher on the team in 2016. An even better part was that he didn't even play a full 16-game schedule and still registered a team-high six sacks. He was also tied for third on the squad with five tackles for loss, a sign that he was more than just an edge rusher.

What's Been Bad:The reason why Mayowa didn't play all 16 games is the bad part of his first season with the Cowboys. For no other reason than unproductive play, Mayowa was benched by the team for three straight games in the middle of the schedule. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli cited Mayowa not getting off the ball quick enough and not finishing plays as the reasons the Cowboys sat him. And there wasn't a lot of depth behind him, which just proved the point of how ineffective Mayowa was during the early part of the year. But at least he got the message and came on strong, recording at least a half-sack in four straight games.[embeddedad0]

2016 Highlight:He had three consecutive games of making an impact during the month of December, but it was his performance against the Giants on Dec. 11 that stood out the most. Mayowa had a sack and forced fumble, which was recovered by the Cowboys. He also had five tackles, including one for loss. The next week he had three tackles for loss against the Buccaneers.

What's Next:He's under contract for two more years and his cap hit won't be a big problem for this team, especially if he's getting in the range of six sacks per season. Obviously the Cowboys would prefer a number closer to double-digits, but Mayowa is counting just $2.6 million against the 2017 cap. That's a friendly number for the Cowboys, who could even justify that for a backup if they decide to draft and/or sign another edge rusher. Mayowa likely isn't going anywhere and may even have a better season in 2017 if he can duplicate the kind of late-year success that produced four sacks in the last five games.

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