It may be a new season, but the roster cuts will be the same as they've always been: As in previous years, the first roster reduction will happen at 4:00 PM ET on September 1, the Tuesday following preseason Week 3, when rosters will have to be trimmed to 75 players. The final roster reduction to 53 players will have to be completed by 6:00 PM ET on Saturday, September 5, two days after the final preseason games have been played.
Along the way, and perhaps even before those cut-off dates, some players that few of us will have expected will likely end up getting cut.
Last year, the Cowboys started the 2014 wave of cuts with a big bang by releasing DeMarcus Ware at the start of the league year and designating Miles Austin a June 1 cut. Phil Costa also got the axe and promptly retired from football. In July, to absolutely nobody's surprise, they released the disgruntled Kyle Orton.
The year before, the Cowboys cut veterans Gerald Sensabaugh, Dan Connor and Marcus Spears in March, followed that up by releasing Lawrence Vickers in July before training camp started, and then traded away Sean Lissemore in the week before the season opener. Overall, that was a fairly moderate wave of cuts.
This year, the list of players cut so far includes FB Jed Collins, LB Will Smith, LB Keith Smith, LB Dekoda Watson, and DT Amobi Okoye - none of which caused much of a ripple among Cowboys fans.
Outside of Brandon Carr, there really isn't a player on the roster who is an issue from a salary cap perspective, and it's highly unlikely that the Cowboys would release Carr. If they did, it would certainly count as this year's biggest surprise cut.
Candidates for an outright release could include backup QB Brandon Weeden, but the Cowboys would have to find a replacement first, and it's not as if they didn't try: they brought in Bryce Petty (4th Rd, 104) for a workout during Dallas Day, and had private workouts with Garrett Grayson (3rd, 75), Sean Mannion (3rd, 89th), Brett Hundley (5th, 147), Chris Bonner (UDFA), and Hutson Mason (UDFA). Additionally, they worked out veterans Jerrod Johnson and Tyler Wilson, and even had a visit with Matt Schaub.
This year's crop of free agent acquisitions may also not have as much sticking power as their status might suggest. FB Jed Collins has already been released, and at least one, perhaps even both, of the remaining fullbacks (Ray Agnew, Tyler Clutts) could get cut. And it's far from certain that the Cowboys will keep all three of their recently acquired linebackers Andrew Gachkar, Jasper Brinkley, and Keith Rivers.
In a crowded linebacker room, Cameron Lawrence and Kyle Wilber may also have to pursue a future outside of Dallas.
With the Cowboys' recent success on the field and with young talent pushing upwards from the recent successful drafts, there's a good possibility that the Cowboys may be able to trade players instead of simply cutting them, as they did with Sean Lissemore two years ago.
In the right trade scenario, Ronald Leary, James Hanna, Mackenzy Bernadeau may be options if the right opportunity presents itself.
Finally, as much as I'd like to think each of the eight 2014 draft picks will make the team, outside of the top four picks, nobody is guaranteed a roster spot. In 2012, the Cowboys released Danny Coale (5th round pick) during final cuts but were able to re-sign him to the practice squad. Last year, the Cowboys released three of their five seventh-rounders: Terrance Mitchell, Ahmad Dixon, and Will Smith didn't make the final 53-man roster.
With 90 players competing for 53 spots, there are bound to be some surprise cuts. Who do you think could be the surprise cut from the team this year?