With so many high-profile players needing to be re-signed, the Dallas Cowboys must get quality play from some unknowns. Here are three names to watch.
The Dallas Cowboys have some big decisions to make this offseason. At the top of the list is whether or not to re-sign some of their big-name free agents. Quarterback Dak Prescott is expected to take up the bulk of the current salary cap with wide receiver Amari Cooper not far behind.
With little cap space left over, the Cowboys will likely have to rely on some relatively unknown names to step up and play more significant roles this upcoming season. Here are three players we’ll be watching closely this summer to do just that.
Luke Gifford, LB
The talk of training camp through the first couple weeks, undrafted Nebraska linebacker Luke Gifford looked destined to make a solid contribution in his first season. And that seemed even more evident when he recorded two tackles, a pass deflection, and an interception in his very first preseason contest.
Unfortunately, Gifford suffered a severe ankle injury in that same game that sidelined him for the first six weeks of the season and stunted the momentum he had built. To add insult to literal injury, the rookie linebacker would end up breaking his arm in Week 15.
Despite the durability concerns, Gifford showed he could provide some quality depth within the linebacker corps. And with the future of free-agent veterans like Sean Lee and Joe Thomas in question, and Leighton Vander Esch coming off neck surgery, Gifford should have a solid chance to earn a more meaningful role in 2020.
Brandon Knight, OT
With the health of All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith a legitimate concern moving forward, expect the position of swing tackle to be hotly debated this offseason. Although Cameron Fleming currently holds the position and is under contract through 2020, undrafted offensive tackle Brandon Knight might have a chance to usurp him.
The new coaching regime in Dallas means every player has a fresh start and a chance to impress this current staff. And if 22-year old can prove he’s better suited for the role, perhaps the Cowboys would be willing to move on from the inconsistent Fleming. Knight played in a total of seven games his rookie season in Dallas, with his lone start being in Week Six against the New York Jets.
Daniel Wise, DT
The third undrafted rookie from last year on this list, Daniel Wise posted some impressive performances last preseason recording six tackles and 2.5 sacks in his final two contests. Yet, the Cowboys elected to place him on their practice squad. And that’s where he remained all last season despite the team’s needs at the defensive tackle position.
The younger brother of New England Patriots defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr. will get an opportunity to impress new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan this summer. And as the defensive tackle position figures to be one of the Cowboys’ biggest areas of need in 2020, Wise could step up to the active roster and contribute.