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Is the Cowboys most important free agent Matt Eberflus?

The most important person to bring back this offseason might not even be a player.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The time of and around the Dallas Cowboys last game was a bit hectic given the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day factors, so it’s understandable if you missed some things. That’s what we’re all here for, fam.

Per the norm, Ian Rapoport took to NFL Network on Sunday morning to discuss the latest from around the NFL. Among the subjects were top coordinators who will be free agents in 2018.

While the discussions of Cowboys fans these last few days have centered around Scott Linehan and Rod Marinelli, it’s Matt Eberflus who would cause the most harm should he depart. It’s believed he’ll have an opportunity for a promotion in no time.

Among other notable coaches with expiring contracts are Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo and Dallas Cowboys linebackers coach/passing game coordinator Matt Eberflus. Both will be strong candidates for coordinator jobs elsewhere; DeFilippo is also expected to draw interest as a head-coaching candidate.

You’ll note that Coach Flus has a unique job title relative to those mentioned alongside him as he’s the Cowboys linebackers coach and passing game coordinator. The latter came as a promotion following the 2015 season, and it’s one that was well-deserving.

A case could be made that the best coach on the Cowboys is indeed Matt Eberflus. What element of the team has shown the most consistency over the last few seasons more than his linebackers, besides maybe the offensive line?

Eberflus has made things work with limited options at times. Of course he’s had Sean Lee, but due to injuries he’s also had to work with players like Rolando McClain, Justin Durant, Damien Wilson, and Anthony Hitchens. Hitch is even considered by many as this team’s most important free agent (as far as players are concerned).

Matt Eberflus has also been critical in the development of Jaylon Smith, who granted still has a long way to go. It should also be noted how critical of a role he’s also played in Sean Lee’s development. The Ringer reported on their relationship back in January.

In addition to attending the Cowboys’ scheduled defensive meetings, Lee and fellow linebacker Justin Durant join Eberflus for 50-minute morning sessions they call the Breakfast Club, a signal-callers’ get-together aimed at digging through the minutiae of an opposing offense: every Darren Sproles carry, every Jordan Reed route, every Odell Beckham Jr. catch.

The piece also describes Eberflus’ famed exam that he hands out to prospective linebackers. Sean Lee famously missed only one of the 40 questions, a mark only ever achieved by one other player (Rolando McClain). Coach Flus is an extremely valuable asset.

It’s understandable that Eberflus would want to further his coaching career, which would invariably include the step up to defensive coordinator. If Rod Marinelli is maintained by Jason Garrett, it’s conceivable that Eberflus would take a promotion elsewhere if it was (and likely would be) offered.

The Cowboys defense started turning the corner in 2017, and Matt Eberflus was a big reason for that. Losing him could hurt the development of younger players, and the Cowboys are going to reach a fork in the road this offseason where a decision needs to be made.

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