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Will 2016 Be Gavin Escobar's Last Year With The Cowboys?

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Gavin Escobar is entering the last year of his contract and the Cowboys may look elsewhere in 2017.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Despite many needs across the roster as well as the fact that Jason Witten still had plenty of gas left in the tank at 31 years old, the Dallas Cowboys selected a tight end in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Out of San Diego State, Gavin Escobar was seen as the guy to not only be the successor to Witten, but also as a player that would contribute to the Cowboys' offense immediately in "12" personnel - two tight-end sets.

At the time, going with "12" personnel was a common fad across the league. The New England Patriots made it famous with guys like Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. By adding Escobar in the draft, the thinking was that the Cowboys would adapt their own version of tight end superstars. But since the draft Escobar hasn't been able to establish himself, having just 26 catches for 303 yards and seven touchdowns in his career.

In a meaningless Week 15 game against the New York Jets, Escobar tore his right Achilles tendon in the last drive of the game, forcing him to the injured reserve list. In a "Talkin' Cowboys" segment on DallasCowboys.com, Mickey Spagnola had this to say about Escobar and his rehab.

Was out doing his rehab, again, beginning of training camp.

The goal for Escobar to return to the offense seems to be training camp, but even if Escobar does fully return from the injury, I'm not too certain that he'll even carve out a major role in the offense. Despite being a sixth-round pick in 2012 NFL Draft, taken one year before Escobar, James Hanna has had a big impact in the role the Cowboys have given him over the past couple of seasons.

Hanna also deserves a ton of credit. Here he was just finishing his rookie season and then management decided to select someone at the position, making him somewhat of an afterthought. Even though he was consistently behind Escobar on the depth chart, Hanna was able to find a role on the team as the blocking tight end, which was a department Escobar struggled in and quite frankly still struggles with.

On top of the run-blocking role, Hanna is just as athletic as Escobar. Looking at their spiderwebs through Mockdraftable, Hanna compared to Kellen Winslow Jr. while Escobar compared to John Phillips.

Hanna:

Escobar:

Also, Hanna's contract was up this offseason, but the Cowboys decided to re-sign him to a three-year deal worth up to $8.25 million. I fully expect Hanna to take on a bigger role in the offense in 2016, perhaps even being groomed by Witten to be the starter.

Let's also not forget that the Cowboys used their last pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, one of their sixth-round picks, on Rico Gathers. Playing basketball at Baylor, the Cowboys have quite the project on their hands with Gathers, but the team is hoping that they can get a similar player to other basketball-turned-football players like Julius Thomas or Jimmy Graham, among others.

Entering his last year of his rookie deal, the future truly does not look bright for Escobar, at least in Dallas. Perhaps it's the fact that he's third on the depth chart or the fact that Dallas never really utilized him, but Escobar looks to be a guy that will be on his way out after the 2016 NFL Draft. Similar to Bennett a few years ago, it wouldn't surprise me at all if he finally came into his own away from Dallas through a change of scenery. But with the Cowboys drafting Gathers and extending Hanna for three more years, the writing is on the wall for Escobar and his future in Dallas.

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