The roster turnover is already underway. Free agency has now begun and the 2017 NFL Draft isn't far away. Over the next few weeks, 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 DallasCowboys.com will preview those players, analyzing where they've been and where they're going.
Today we'll continue the series with linebacker Kyle Wilber.
What's Been Good:The best teams typically have plenty of depth and the Cowboys have been able to have that with Wilber, who not only has experience on special teams, but gives the team plenty of position flex. He's moved around from outside linebacker to strong-side backer to defensive end. Last year when the Cowboys had injury issues at end, Wilber was able to rotate into that position without them having to create a roster spot and sign another end to finish the season. Wilber's best spot has been special teams, where he ranked second on the team last year with six tackles.
What's Been Bad:As a fourth-round pick in 2012, Wilber should be expected to contribute more than just special teams. While that's a key part of a team's success, the Cowboys were certainly hopeful Wilber would become a regular starter in the base defense. Instead, he's had only 16 starts in five seasons. Last year, Wilber recorded just five tackles on defense and no quarterback pressures.
2016 Highlight:Not only was this his best play of the season, but quite possibly his best of his Cowboys career, although he's had a blocked punt return for a touchdown and another strip sack to help win a game against the Redskins. But this past year, Wilber completely changed the game for the Cowboys in Minnesota in early December. Trailing 9-7 in the fourth, the Cowboys got a huge break when Wilber stripped the ball from the Vikings punt returner Adam Thielen and then recovered the ball at the 8-yard line. The Cowboys scored right away to take the lead in the eventual 17-15 win on a Thursday night national game.[embeddedad0]
What's Next:He's set to return for his sixth season after signing a two-year contract extension in the 2016 offseason. While the Cowboys didn't sign a free agent linebacker, let's see what happens in the draft next month. Plus, the expected return of Jaylon Smith should create a ripple effect at the position, perhaps moving Anthony Hitchens and/or Damien Wilson to the outside. But either way, Wilber probably won't be competing for a starting spot. His main role will be on special teams with occasional spot duty as a rusher.