FRISCO, Texas – With so many questions to answer, this series will take a look at each position on the roster, and what choices might face the front office heading into 2021.
We'll continue with the special teams unit, an area that had its share of issues during the 2020 season.
Today, let's continue with some key decisions the Cowboys will have to make about some unrestricted free agents.
Can the Cowboys keep their core players on special teams?
When it comes to the Cowboys' potential free agents, we realize the names and face that certainly top the list.
Cowboys Nation is on pins and needles trying to make sure Dak Prescott remains the quarterback. There are other key players on offense and defense such as Chido Awuzie, Aldon Smith and Sean Lee that are free agents as well.
But ask special teams coordinator John Fassel about key free-agent decisions this move and he'll probably have a few other names on his list of priorities as well.
Don't forget about the special teams when discussing potential changes for 2021.
The Cowboys will obviously be cap-strapped, regardless of what happens with the Dak Prescott situation. So saving money here and there will be vital.
The Cowboys won't have huge contracts from their special teams units, but they do have some veterans that certainly won't be making the minimum.
For instance, long snapper L.P. Ladouceur is a free agent and could return for another year, which would be his 17th season. He's only two games away from tying Jason Witten's franchise record of games played with the Cowboys at 255.
And while his base salary is usually in the range of $1 million, the Cowboys might decide to go with a younger deep snapper this year. That might prove to be a risky move considering Ladouceur has been one of the most consistent players in team history, with no bad snaps in his entire career.
Another special teams ace is C.J. Goodwin, a cornerback who led the team in special teams tackles again last year with 10. He also finds himself in the middle of several big plays in the kicking games.
He's an unrestricted free agent for the second straight year and we will see if the Cowboys decide to make him a high priority to re-sign.
Other free agents who play a role on special teams are linebackers Joe Thomas and Justin March, along with wide receiver Noah Brown. Also, punter Chris Jones is under contract and scheduled to count $2.5 million on the cap, although the Cowboys could considering making a move there, with Hunter Niswander having a solid year when he replaced the injured Jones for the second half of the season.
Again, figuring out the special teams units might not be the top order of business for the Cowboys.
But once some of those big decisions are made, it could definitely trickle down towards the kicking game, one way or another.