The roster cuts on Tuesday were the first in a couple of league-mandated steps designed to get all teams to finalize their rosters for opening day. The next step is due on Saturday, when teams are required to drop as many as 22 players by 4 p.m. ET to get down to the required 53-man roster size.
For football fans, the 53-man roster date often feels like the end of a long process. Just like the draft signals the end of a long process of evaluating college talent, with endless mock drafts, scouting profiles and draft strategies, the announcement of the 53-man roster often feels like the final step en route to building an NFL team that stretched from free agency and the draft through rookie minicamp, OTAs and training camp, replete with endless iterations of 53-man roster projections.
Bill Parcells was fond of saying that "the NFL is a talent acquisition business." Jason Garrett might argue that it’s less of a business and more of a talent acquisition "process", just like everything else at Valley Ranch these days is more about a "process" than ever before. Either way, the Cowboys are constantly looking for ways in which to upgrade their roster, by whatever means available.
And while the football public has traditionally focused on the draft and free agency as the primary means of talent acquisition, for NFL franchises, the announcement of the 53-man roster is just one date in a year-round process of acquiring, developing and retaining player talent for their team.
On the day after final roster cuts, at noon ET on Sunday, the claiming period for players placed on waivers during the final roster cuts will expire, and teams can begin signing players to their 10-man practice squad.
If you thought the 53-man roster signaled some kind of end point, think again: There's bound to be a whirlwind of activity over the weekend as teams sort through the players other teams have released, in the hope of finding a few diamonds in the rough or patching roster holes. The Cowboys will be in a mad scramble to find defensive players to bolster their roster, and if the past few years are any indication, chances are the newly minted Cowboys 53-man roster won't last for more than a day, if that.
2013: The Cowboys traded for DE Edgar Jones on the day of final cuts, then traded away DT Sean Lissemore and TE Dante Rosario the next day. Other roster moves between final cutdowns and the season opener: claimed LB Kyle Bosworth off waivers, traded for DE/DT Caesar Rayford, signed OG Brian Waters and DT Jerome Long.
2012: Acquired center Ryan Cook on the day of final roster cuts in a trade with Miami, and claimed tight end Colin Cochart off waivers a day later.
2011: The Cowboys picked up FB Tony Fiammetta off waivers, signed WR Laurent Robinson and OG Derrick Dockery. Added WR Andre Holmes and DT Rob Calloway to their practice squad in the week between final roster cuts and the opening game.
There's no doubt that the Cowboys will scour the waiver wires once again this season, and they'll almost certainly make a few late signings. Those late additions will probably not be names that Joe Public would instantly recognize. But neither were Laurent Robinson or Tony Fiammetta at the time.
The most obvious place to look for players would be teams employing similar schemes, or players the position coaches may have coached before: The Cowboys have already looked to New England twice for defensive backs, and picked up a former Seahawks defensive lineman. The Rams and Seahawks both still have 13 defensive linemen on their roster, are they going to keep all of them? Is there a current or former Bears player who could be a capable fill-in on defense? Did a Raiders player impress enough during joint practices to warrant a waiver wire claim? Could a backup offensive tackle be had from the Patriots or Bengals?
Where would you look for this year's late additions?