It proved to a big bounce back year for the Dallas Cowboys. But when it was all said and done, the Dallas Cowboys fell short of getting back to the Super Bowl once again. A thrilling yet heartbreaking 34-31 loss to Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers denied the NFC’s No. 1 seed a chance to reach the conference title game for the first time since 1995. It was still a wildly successful campaign for a franchise that was 4-12 one year earlier. But now Jason Garrett’s club must build on what we saw in 2016. Rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott were nothing short of sensational. The future is bright for this club.

However, we are a few days from the start of the NFL’s new fiscal year. By March 9 at 4 p.m. ET, each NFL team will have made their decisions on which potential unrestricted they would like to see back in the fold. The Cowboys have a number of decisions to make, especially on the defensive side of the football. So which prospective Free Agent does the team need to retain and who will be allowed to test the market? It’s going to be a fascinating few months for the defending NFC East champions.

Bring him back

He has enjoyed an up-and-down career since the Dallas Cowboys made him the sixth overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft. But before going down in 2016, cornerback Morris Claiborne was enjoying an excellent season.

But can the team depend on the talented performer to stay on the field? And keep in mind that cornerback Brandon Carr is also slated to become a free agent. The Cowboys also have to make decisions on safeties Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox. All told, this is a club that has a total of seven defensive players that can become available to the rest of the league.

Claiborne won’t be the only player Dallas brings back when it comes to this unit. But he’s the one with the most upside.

Let him go

It took a little while for wide receiver Dez Bryant to capture his star form this past season. But once he and Prescott got on the same page, the Dallas Cowboys passing attack started to round into form.

Cole Beasley led the team in receptions. Potential free agent wideouts Terrance Williams (4) and Brice Butler (3) combined for seven touchdowns grabs in ’16. But 2013 second-round pick Gavin Escobar has shown only occasional flashes. And since ageless tight end Jason Witten continues to excel, the team could look for his true successor in this year’s draft and let Escobar move on.

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