Making the Cowboys final roster this year may prove a little more difficult than it has been in the last few years. Part of it has to do with Garrett aiming to have players compete for their jobs:
"What we’re trying to do on our offensive line and throughout our team is to create competition," Garrett said in the post draft press conference. "We want to bring good football players in and we want guys to earn their job."
The other part is a simple numbers game. The Cowboys currently have not released anyone from the 53-man roster, have nine players on their future/reserve squad, another nine players on injured reserve and just drafted eight more players.
Last year, the Cowboys brought in 18 undrafted free agents. If they were to go for the same number this year, the total number of players competing for the 2011 53-man roster could be 97, and with a couple of free agent acquisitions and perhaps trades, there could be more than 100 players on the Cowboys' offseason roster.
The NFL roster limit for each team is 80 players under contract. In a normal offseason, the Cowboys would reach that limit at the beginning of training camp, when traditionally most or all of that year's rookies sign their contracts. In the third week of the preseason, NFL roster rules require teams to cut down the roster to 75 players, and prior to the start of the NFL regular season, teams must cut further players to reach the roster limit of 53 players.
CBA or no CBA, whenever the league opens for business again, teams will be gunning to restock their rosters via free agency. Also, don't discount trades. With teams less willing to trade their draft picks, we could see a rise in the number of trades this year. But regardless of how teams go about it, the roster rules will kick in again at some point. And if you buy into the theory that competition is good because it brings out the best in a player, and that intensified competition draws out the best talent, then a large roster offseason roster size could result in many new faces on the 2011 Cowboys roster.
In March last year, Jerry Jones said that he expected "ten to eleven new Cowboys" on the 2010 roster, and he was spot on. Eleven new faces graced the opening day roster: six of the seven draft picks made the roster (CB Jamar Wall did not), four UDFAs made the final 53 (Gronkowski, Costa, McCray, Church) as well as one former first round pick who played in his first and only game on opening day, Alex Barron.
How many new faces will be on the Cowboys roster this year?