With the 2019 NFL regular season quickly approaching, the Dallas Cowboys have to decide which players on the roster are most important to the team’s success. Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper are both looking to sign contract extensions before they hit free agency in 2020. Ezekiel Elliott is holding out for a new contract with two years left on his deal.

Byron Jones and Jaylon Smith are both entering the final year of their respective contracts. Dallas gave DeMarcus Lawrence a five-year, $105 million deal this past offseason. 

The Cowboys have some tough choices to make since the salary cap will preclude them from meeting each players’ demands. Who are the most irreplaceable players on the roster? 

Here are the five most important players on the 2019 Dallas Cowboys: 

1) Dak Prescott

The quarterback is the most important player on any NFL team. That’s no different for the Cowboys, even with the way Dallas’ offense relies on the rushing attack. The Cowboys were the NFC’s No.1 seed three years ago in large part because Prescott was so good, posting a 104.9 passer rating as a rookie with just four interceptions. Dallas missed the playoffs the next season when Prescott’s passer rating dropped by nearly 20 points. The team will go as far as Prescott takes them in 2019.

2) DeMarcus Lawrence

Byron Smith, Jaylon Smith and Leighton Vander Esch might all be better players than Lawrence, but no one is more important to Dallas’ defense than Lawrence. He’s the Cowboys’ one dynamic pass rusher, accounting for 24.5 of the team’s 71 sacks in the last two seasons. Suspensions for Randy Gregory and Robert Quinn will only highlight Lawrence’s importance in the early part of the 2019 season. 

3) Amari Cooper 

Cooper’s value to the Cowboys couldn’t have been more evident in the weeks after Dallas traded for him last season. Cooper gave a bad wide receiving corps a much-needed boost, and the Cowboys went 7-2 with him on the regular-season roster. His 725 receiving yards in that limited time led the team. Dallas could be in trouble if Cooper misses any significant portion of 2019. It’s been four years since anyone else on the roster even had a 700-yard season. 

4) Tyron Smith

Dallas’ offensive line has arguably been the league’s best over the last three seasons, and Smith deserves much of the credit. The left tackle has made six straight Pro Bowls, providing running lanes for Elliott and keeping Prescott upright. Smith’s value was evident in each of the last two years when injuries forced him to miss games. Prescott was sacked eight times when Smith was sidelined against the Atlanta Falcons in 2017. The quarterback took seven sacks last year in Week 13 without Smith.

5) Ezekiel Elliott

Elliott is arguably the best player at his position, but the fact remains that running backs are only so valuable. He might not even belong on this list, though it’d feel a little disrespectful not to acknowledge how prolific the 24-year-old has been. Elliott was the rushing champion in 2016 and 2018, and he led the league in yards per game when a suspension cost him six games in 2017. While much of the credit goes to the offensive line, Elliott did average 4.7 yards per carry last year compared to 2.86 yards per carry for the team’s other running backs.

Ezekiel Elliott Cowboys Rams Ezekiel Elliott #21 of the Dallas Cowboys runs the ball in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at AT&T Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images