While the deadline for NFL teams to make the cut to the final 53 is 9 pm Eastern time, the Dallas Cowboys apparently were eager to get the pain over with. Although the official announcements will not be made until Friday, players were apparently being notified of their status on Thursday, with at least one report that 21 of the 22 required cuts had already received word from the Turk (who is now digital, apparently).
Several of the players have contacted the media or tweeted a farewell message. KD did a summary of the players that can reliably be reported to have had their iPads taken away from them. However, one caveat is that none of this is confirmed at the moment. And some things are a bit confused. For instance, Ian Rappaport has tweeted that Stephen McGee will make the team, while there is also a report that 105.3 The Fan, the flagship station of the Cowboys Radio Network, is claiming that McGee is going to be cut. So some of the names discussed here might be in error, but this is the best information we have until the official word is handed down.
While the focus has been on who has not made the team, there are also some reports (or rumors) about some of the "bubble" players who have made the squad. According to various sources, Andre Holmes, Cole Beasley, Lance Dunbar, Jamize Olawale, Marcus Spears, and Matt Johnson are all going to make the initial 53-man roster (pending free agent signings and such). It looks like the team is going heavy on the running game, perhaps as a strategy to deal with the rather fierce-looking pass rushes that all of their NFC East opponents boast.
But with the required 22 cuts looking to be all but done, the next thing the team has to worry about is who to put on the Practice Squad. And I noticed something interesting, although it may be just a coincidence. The first names that started getting reported were almost all likely PS candidates.
A review of the PS rules and why most of these names should be there after the jump.
Just to get you familiar, here are the rules and deadlines for the next few days (thanks to the omniscient OCC for providing the link to this):
August 31 -- Roster cut-down to maximum of 53 players on Active/Inactive List prior to 9:00 p.m., New York time. Clubs may dress minimum of 43 and maximum of 46 players for each regular season and postseason game.
September 1 -- Claiming period for players placed on waivers at the final roster reduction will expire at 12:00 noon, New York time.
September 1 -- Beginning at 12:00 noon, New York time, clubs may establish a Practice Squad of eight players by signing free agents who do not have an accrued season of free agency credit or who were on the 46-player Active List for less than nine regular season games during each of any Accrued Seasons. A player cannot participate on the Practice Squad for more than three seasons.
September 4 -- Deadline at 4:00 p.m., New York time, for all NFL Player Contracts, Practice Player Contracts, tender offers, and miscellaneous amounts to fit within each club's 2012 Salary Cap, in anticipation of the midnight expiration of the Top 51 Rule.
September 5 -- At 12:00 a.m., New York time, the Top 51 Rule expires for all NFL Clubs.
September 5 -- Deadline for Clubs to submit written request to receive up to $1.5 million in additional Salary Cap Room for the 2012 League Year, in accordance with CBA Article 11, Section 5(e)(ii).
September 5, 9-10 -- Regular Season opens.
September 25 -- Priority on multiple waiver claims is now based on the current season's standing.
Now, looking at the players that are believed to have been cut, here are the ones I see the team is most interested in getting to the Practice Squad.
Danny Coale - The team would really like to keep the fifth-rounder to see if he can develop. Also great insurance for later if a WR goes out during the season.
Rudy Carpenter - I think Jason Garrett just needs the security of knowing he has a plan A, B, 3, IV, and Code Red all in place for the quarterback position. Otherwise, I don't get the reports of McGee making the team. At all.
Adrian Hamilton - Didn't make the team because he is one-dimensional. That one dimension, rushing the passer, is a good one to build on. Round him out, and he will be one of the top contenders next year.
Orie Lemon - Showed some real flash, just not enough.
Ron Leary - It looks like the team will be a little light on the O line, and they need to have someone stashed here just in case. Could be at risk of missing out depending on who the Cowboys might find on the waiver wire, since he seemed to stall after a fast start.
Ben Bass - A real surprise in camp. The team can groom him to become the replacement for Kenyon Coleman or Marcus Spears.
Harland Gunn - Get as many possibilities for the O line as you can.
Saalim Hakim - A project, but you cannot coach speed. And he should be a good workout for the secondary in practice.
Those are eight names, based solely on who is believed to be out the door. Some other possibilities could include Shaun Chapas, Tim Benford, Jeff Adams, and perhaps Lionel Smith, who has not been mentioned but also is not seen as a lock for the 53.
I think the Cowboys will have a respectable Practice Squad. Of course, the players I mention would have to clear waivers, and everyone is very, very concerned about how the best ones will get snatched away.
Well, that may not be such a problem. I don't quite understand why the other teams in the NFL would be all that excited about the players that did not make the Cowboys roster. They were not good enough to make a team coming off an 8-8 season with all kinds of holes it needed to fill. Everyone talks about Danny Coale and his measurables, but he could not stay on the field. Adrian Hamilton had some good plays, but at the moment is basically a one trick pony. More importantly, if I were a team looking for some help from another team's castoffs, I would be looking at teams like the New York Giants, New England Patriots, and others that had good records and got into the playoffs. Those are teams that would most likely be too loaded to keep all the good players they had.
As far as whether these players should have made the active roster or not, the team uses criteria we may not take into account, like special teams potential, and also has a lot of resources we don't. And don't forget, there was massive disappointment when the Cowboys did not sign Mat McBriar, but his agent came out and stated he was being cut by the Philadelphia Eagles (although Andy Reid is stressing that he has not actually been cut yet, possibly because his competition had a rough night in the last pre-season game for the Eagles).
While I do accept that a player or two may well be signed away, I don't think the chances are as great as most do. We love the Cowboys and get invested in our pet cats (Danny, again, I am so sorry, man), but we are not always totally objective. I just don't know how many teams think that one of our waived players is likely to be worth getting rid of one of their top 53 candidates.
I could be wrong. But I think we have a very good idea of who the Practice Squad is going to be selected from.