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What The Offense's Lineup Might Look Like If The 2017 Season Began Today

FRISCO, Texas – Nine players signed, nine players departing.

The Cowboys' roster has seen plenty of change since free agency began two weeks ago, though six of their signings are returning contributors from last season.

Free agency is still ongoing, and the draft is exactly five weeks away. The roster is far from a finished product, but here's a glimpse at what the offense's unofficial lineup might look like if the 2017 season began today.


Starter: Dak Prescott

Key Backups: Tony Romo, Kellen Moore

Analysis: The big question, of course, is Romo's future. Will he return next season as a high-priced backup to Prescott, or will the organization eventually part ways with the 36-year-old veteran this offseason? Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones hasn't spoken publicly on the subject since the NFL Scouting Combine during the first weekend of March. He didn't rule out Romo's return but also didn't have a feel for what the ultimate resolution might be. The Cowboys re-signed Moore to a one-year deal for depth, but that doesn't really impact the Romo decision. Drafting a quarterback for the second straight year as a developmental backup isn't out of the realm of possibility, either.

Running Back

Starter: Ezekiel Elliott 

Key Backups: Darren McFadden, Alfred Morris, Keith Smith (fullback) 

Analysis: Elliott, the NFL's leading rusher in 2016, played 71.3 percent of the Cowboys' offensive snaps in 15 starts. With Lance Dunbar no longer on the roster as a change-of-pace back, those extra snaps will go to Elliott or his backups, McFadden and Morris. Elliott has proven he can play all three downs – he caught 32 passes and blocked well in the passing game. Smith, a converted linebacker, did a nice job as a lead blocker for Elliott last season.

Wide Receiver

Starters:Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley

Key Backups: Brice Butler, Lucky Whitehead

Analysis:No changes on paper at this position. Williams, who signed a four-year deal last week, will be back opposite Bryant on the outside. Beasley, the team's leading receiver last season, is essentially a starter given the number of three-receiver sets the offense uses. Butler, who made three starts for an injured Bryant last season, re-signed to a one-year deal. Whitehead has been the team's primary special teams returner.

Tight End

Starter: Jason Witten 

Key Backups: James Hanna, Geoff Swaim, Rico Gathers 

Analysis: Witten's primary backups dealt with injuries last season. Hanna missed the entire year with a knee injury. Swaim sat out the final seven games with a pectoral injury and recently had foot surgery that could sideline him until training camp. Could the draft be an option for depth? Might depend on Gathers' development. The former Baylor basketball star made progress on the practice squad last season, but there's a lot to learn – he hadn't played football since eighth grade.

Offensive Tackle

Starters:Tyron Smith, Doug Free

Key Backups:Chaz Green, Emmett Cleary

Analysis: Reports surfaced earlier this month that Free intends to retire after 10 NFL seasons. Until there's an official announcement, though, we'll tentatively pencil him in at right tackle. Green began the 2016 season as the primary backup to Smith and Free, but injuries limited his availability for the second straight season. Could the draft produce some competition?


Starters:La'el Collins, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin

Key Backups:Joe Looney, Jonathan Cooper 

Analysis: Ronald Leary's departure to Denver means Collins likely steps back into the starting lineup at left guard, where he began the 2016 season until a toe injury sidelined him in Week 3. Frederick and Martin made the All-Pro team yet again at center and right guard, respectively. Looney is a backup option at guard and center, and the Cowboys might see if Cooper, who recently signed a one-year deal, can play center as well as guard.

(To see what the current defensive lineup might look like, click here.)

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