As normal, healthy Americans enjoy a long holiday weekend with friends and family, crazed NFL fans sit in dark rooms, hunched over their computers, monitoring Twitter for the latest cuts, exulting in infinitesimal upgrades to the 53rd men on their respective rosters. Yep, it's cut-down weekend, that annual nerd-fest poised neatly between the end of preseason and the NFL's opening day. Here's what's been doing in Cowboysland:
The current signees are:
RB Ryan Williams
WR Tim Benford
DE Kenneth Boatright
OC Ronald Patrick
S Micah Pellerin
LB Keith Smith
LB Will Smith
The name that I find most surprising is Benford's. Given the depth the WR depth the team enjoyed in camp, I thought they'd add somebody who appeared to a) be further up the depth chart or b) have more long-term upside. One important note in that regard: when the team ran pass patterns in camp, Benford was the only guy other than Cole Beasley to run those that were specific to slot receivers.
The club will add the remaining three members in the next day or so...
Cowboys Universe breathes a collective sigh of relief as this year's Preseason Golden Child returns to the fold. Whew. Of course, this is after he was passed over by 31 other NFL clubs...
After cutting down to 53 players on Saturday, the Cowboys have added a handful of players on waivers (or guys who cleared waivers):
Here are some stories on the most recent of these additions (Edwards was added on Saturday):
Dallas claimed UT alum Cleveland Browns. The former Longhorn was a UDFA who initially signed with Philadelphia and played in three preseason games with the Eagles (earning, As Dave points out, a +1.2 grade from Pro Football Focus for his 26 snaps). He was released and picked up by the Browns to play in their final preseason contest.who was released by the
To make room for Hawkins, the Cowboys released OT John Wetzel. If he clears waivers, Wetzel is expected to be added to Dallas' practice squad.
The Cowboys did not put in a waiver wire claim for Toomer. Instead, Toomer went unclaimed through waivers, and the Cowboys managed to get him under contract after he had cleared waivers.
Toomer played eight snaps against Chicago in the third preseason game, and 41 snaps against Oakland in the preseason finale. Pro Football Focus gave him a +1.3 grade for the two games, which is a better grade than any Cowboys linebacker outside of Kyle Wilber received this preseason.
Since we've already heard about Toomer, let's see what Williams writes about Crawford:
Crawford was a 2012 fifth-round pick of the Raiders out of Penn State. The 6-foot-5, 275-pounder appeared in 19 games his first two seasons, with 18 tackles. The Raiders’ depth chart listed him as their third-string left defensive end before his release.
Crawford is a native of London, having attended high school at the City of London School.
The Cowboys also signed former 49ers safety C.J. Spillman, a special teams ace who was credited with a career-high 25 tackles last season. He played 59 games for San Francisco over the last four seasons.
Of note is the fact that the Cowboys will need to make two moves to create roster spots for all of these new additions. The team cut to 52 to accommodate Edwards, and released Wetzel to make space for Hawkins. It's likely Toomer (by virtue of his clearing waivers) will take the spot vacated by DeMarcus Lawrence when they put Lawrence on 8-week IR on Tuesday. That leaves the Cowboys needing to clear space so that Crawford and Spillman can join the team.
Will McClay and his boys are doing work...
And now, some analysis of the team's recent (and not too recent) activity:
Now that the 53-man roster is set, More looks back on what the Cowboys have done to prepare for the beginning of the season since landing in Southern California on July 22. As the headline suggests, it ain't exactly pretty...
KD serves up a position group-by-position group analysis of the recent cuts on the defensive side of the ball. The good news? He leaves the offense for another post, which means we have more KD to look forward to.
In-house superscout Broaddus offers a scattering of observations after watching tape of four of Edwards; games. Here are a couple of them:
Believe that he plays with football intelligence and discipline. Was solid with his techniques against the Seahawks when defending the read-option. Did a nice job of staying square and forcing Russell Wilson to have to keep the ball only for a short gain. Was able to execute the same techniques against the 49ers. Did a nice job of playing on his feet and using body control.
If there is an area that he could use improvement in, it is as a pass rusher. Needs to win right off the snap in order to have a chance to have success. Would have liked to see more initial quickness along with counter moves as he is going up the field. He’s a very average rusher when he doesn’t try moves.
The always on-point Archer offers another installment of his excellent "wonders" series, with a focus on the recent cut down to 53. Here's one of the five to whet your appetite for the other four:
I wonder who the 53rd player on the roster is right now. Could it be tackles Darrion Weems or John Wetzel. I wonder if Wetzel played better in the Broncos game that it would have spelled the end for Weems, who hurt his shoulder the first week of camp. I wonder if it is safety Jemea Thomas, who has yet to have a full practice with the club after getting picked up off waivers from the New England Patriots. I wonder if it is linebacker Cameron Lawrence, who figures to be a key special teamer, or fullback Tyler Clutts. The bottom of this roster should not exhale for quite some time. The Cowboys will be rolling through players over the next few days, weeks and months.
A nice dose of perspective in a moment when we are pulling hair and gnashing teeth over the bottom-of-the-roster guys.: players 46-53 will continue to come and go throughout the season. Hate that a certain player made the 53? Fret not; he'll be gone before long. Have a guy you thought deserved to be on the roster? Chances are he'll come back, and soon.
Another nice bit of perspective to cut through the fog of these last few frenzied, hype-ridden hours:
Sam wasn’t in the Cowboys’ draft plans. They didn’t pursue him in the draft and didn’t have him ranked high on their draft board. Also, the Cowboys don’t view Sam as a good scheme fit for them. The Cowboys want speedy defensive ends. Also, Sam is more of a left defensive end, and the Cowboys have more of a need at right defensive end with rookie DeMarcus Lawrence expected to miss the first half of the season and Anthony Spencer not expected to play the first few weeks.
There has been a long debate about whether the Cowboys should be drafting quarterbacks the way the New England Patriots have. With the trade of Ryan Mallett to the Houston Texans, the topic is back, and it had a Dallas connection with reports from Ian Rapoport (which were contradicted by Bryan Broaddus) that the Cowboys were involved in talks with New England as well. This article looks at the pros and cons of this approach, including how the Patriots did not get nearly what they probably wanted from this deal.
Despite what I listed earlier, getting just a 7th round pick for Ryan Mallett can't be what the Patriots had hoped. But by drafting Jimmy Garoppolo as early as they did and rarely keeping three quarterbacks over the past eight seasons, the writing was on the wall that Mallett, in the final year of his deal, wasn't in the long-term plans, killing any leverage they had with a team in need of a quarterback.
Had they been able to grab a 4th or a 5th rounder last season or during the 2014 NFL Draft, the strategy would've been a major win. But only receiving a "conditional" 7th rounder in 2016 (basically, the lowest they could have gotten without being waived) certainly won't deem this investment worthwhile if the Patriots plan all along was to recoup a future draft pick. It's unclear what their long-term plan was with Mallett, however, and this may have never been the immediate plan.
This is going to be an immediate test of the newly announced guidelines for players involved in domestic violence.
An initial offense of this sort will draw a six-week ban without pay, although the memo says "more severe discipline will be imposed if there are aggravating circumstances such as the presence or use of a weapon, choking, repeated striking, or when the act is committed against a pregnant woman or in the presence of a child."
And it has a direct impact on the Cowboys' season opener. How soon the league (or coach Jim Harbaugh, who has stated anyone who engages in such activity would be "gone") takes action will obviously determine whether McDonald is available for the game. After the Ray Rice debacle, this one is going to be closely watched.