<
>

Three years in, Cowboys still haven't found a fit for Gavin Escobar

IRVING, Texas -- Another year has passed and the Dallas Cowboys still have not figured out a way to get Gavin Escobar more involved in the offense.

Escobar had surgery Tuesday to repair a torn Achilles tendon suffered on the Cowboys’ final drive in their loss last week to the New York Jets. He faces a long rehab that could lead him to open the 2016 season on the physically unable to perform list.

He finished this season with eight catches for 64 yards and a touchdown.

The Cowboys chose Escobar in the second round in 2013 with the idea of turning their offense into a true two-tight end scheme. It just hasn't worked out, and it's not entirely Escobar’s fault. He has not developed the way the Cowboys hoped, but the coaches haven’t given him a chance to do what he does best, either.

He has 26 catches for 303 yards and seven touchdowns in 46 games.

He is the third tight end the Cowboys have drafted in the second round since 2006. They traded Anthony Fasano after two seasons. They drafted Martellus Bennett in 2008 and never found a way to get him seriously involved.

Because Jason Witten does not come off the field -- and shouldn’t come off the field -- playing second-round resources at tight end simply did not make sense. They were never going to get the value of the pick out of the player.

Plus, Escobar wasn't able to prove himself to be a better blocker than James Hanna.

“I think the biggest thing we try to do is evaluate what the players have done with the opportunities they’ve gotten,” coach Jason Garrett said. “For different reasons, over the course of Gavin’s career up to this point, he’s only gotten a certain amount of opportunities and typically he’s taken advantage of those, mostly as a pass receiver. He runs his routes. He typically wins and when we throw him the ball, he typically makes the play on it. Has he had a huge impact? He hasn’t. But when we’ve given him chances he has. He has to improve as an all-around tight end. His ability to block, we knew that when we drafted him. But when you play Witten as much as we play him, and we feel like James Hanna brings some things to the position that might be able to help our team more than Gavin. Those guys get some of those opportunities. But when he’s had chances, he’s typically taken advantage of them.”

Escobar will be entering the final year of his contract in 2016 and he is coming off a major injury. Barry Church has shown that producing after an Achilles injury is possible.

What Escobar’s injury will do is give rookie Geoff Swaim playing time in the final two games. Swaim has been active for two games this season and has one catch.

"He’s a young tight end but he has a lot of different traits that make you feel like he could be a complete tight end,” Garrett said. “He did a good job blocking in training camp and showed he could run routes and catch the ball. He plays with a physicalness and aggressiveness so it’ll be a good opportunity for him to get out there and play and be a part of this.”