For football fans, the finalization of 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." 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 milestone in a year-round process of acquiring, developing and retaining player talent for their team.
Less than 24 hours after final roster cuts, at noon EST 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 one of those teams, 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.
2014: A few hours before final roster-cuts-Saturday last year, the Cowboys completed a trade for DE Lavar Edwards. On Sunday, they claimed OT Donald Hawkins off waivers and followed that up by signing Korey Toomer and C.J. Spillman on Monday. On Tuesday, they signed DT Jack Crawford and infamously signed Michael Sam to their practice squad on Wednesday.
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 centeron the day of final roster cuts in a trade with Miami, and claimed tight end off waivers a day later.
2011: Picked up FBoff waivers, signed WR and OG Derrick Dockery. Added WR 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 any of the names on the list above at the time.
The Cowboys traditionally finalize their cut list immediately following the last preseason game; it just takes a while for the names of the cut players to trickle through, and an official announcement usually isn't forthcoming until very close to the roster cut deadline.
Which means that Will McClay and the rest of the front office are probably on the phones right now trying to line up a few trades in an effort to perhaps get better value for some of the bubble players they've penciled in for the 53-man roster. Roster cuts have to be completed by 4:00 pm EST today, so that would leave the Cowboys with a few hours to get a deal done.
Be it by trade, be it by waiver wire claim, be it by simply signing a free agent, recent history suggests the Cowboys won't sit still over the coming days as they look to continuously improve their roster.