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On Thursday, the Cowboys played the Texans in the fourth and final preseason game of the year. That gave the coaches one last opportunity to evaluate the players at the bottom of the roster before the Cowboys and every other team will have to finalize their roster.
By 4:00 p.m. EST tomorrow, all NFL teams must reduce their rosters to a maximum of 53 players on the active list. The Cowboys are currently maxed out at the mandated 75 players, which means 22 players have to be cut over the next 24 hours or so.
The first round of roster cuts on this past Tuesday, as hard as the cuts were for the individuals involved, were pretty straightforward from a roster point of view, as they mostly involved bottom of the roster guys, camp bodies, and recently signed players.
But the next round of cuts is going to be much harder. The competition for a Cowboys roster spot is tougher than it's been at any time in recent memory, and that may force the Cowboys to release some veteran players.
- Outside of Chaz Green (PUP List) and Mark Nzeocha (NFI List) every drafted rookie will make the roster. Add honorary draft pick La'el Collins and you've got at least seven rookies that will make the team.
- A big part of cutting down the roster is about special teams and about which 46 players will be active every week. Jason Garrett has stated that in an ideal world, the Cowboys would like to keep players who can develop into position players while performing well on special teams until they are ready - a mindset that clearly favors the potential of the young guys over the experience of the veteran guys.
- Undrafted free agents like Lucky Whitehead are making a case for why they should be part of the 53-man roster.
The Cowboys brought in Keith Rivers, Jed Collins, Darren McFadden, Corey White, Jasper Binkley, Andrew Gachkar, Ray Agnew, and Danny McCray during free agency.
Rivers has since retired and Collins has since been released. Agnew will almost certainly be released and both Brinkley's and McCray's names often pop up when talking about potential roster cut casualties. But there are also a number of second- or third-year players whose names pop up in the same conversation. Ben Gardner, Lavar Edwards, Ken Bishop, Darrion Weems, and Dustin Vaughan won't all be released, but one or two of them might.
But even the "final roster cuts" tomorrow won't really be final.
A day after final roster cuts in 2013, the Cowboys traded DT Sean Lissemore to the Chargers and TE Dante Rosario to the Bears. A few days later, they cut OG Nate Livings, S Eric Frampton and LB Alex Albright. Last year, they waived OG John Wetzel one day after final cuts and waived CB Jemea Thomas a day later.
Recent history shows that bottom of the roster veterans live dangerously in Dallas in late August/early September.
Which veteran players do you see missing the cut on Saturday, or possibly being traded at some point over the next week?