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Last Man In: Who Is The 53rd Player On The Cowboys Roster?

The opening roster looks to be set for now. But churn happens. And when Dallas adds a player, someone will have to leave.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys-Training Camp
Would Dax Swanson be the first to go?
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

With the first game of the season now just three days away, the Dallas Cowboys do not appear inclined to make any changes to the 53-man roster before they face off against the New York Giants. But that could easily change once the game is played. And we know there will have to be some roster moves made at some point, with DeMarcus Lawrence slated to return to the team from his suspension after four games. While injuries might solve the problem for the staff, they have to make plans for who will be waived. Basically, they have to decide who the last man on the roster is.

It is not always a clear cut issue, of course. They might go position for position if they decide someone currently on the roster is not cutting it. But in other cases they will have to go with that last man on the totem pole. For instance, the team is currently light on both the offensive and defensive lines. If they need to add a player at a position like that, they will have to cut another somewhere else. Based on the current depth chart for the team, these appear to be the most likely candidates for a heartbreakingly short tenure wearing the Star.

Dax Swanson

He was probably the most surprising name to end up on the 53-man roster. Most expected Deji Olatoye to get this spot, but the team apparently saw things differently. He does not represent any draft capital spent by the team. While going with only four cornerbacks might be a bit risky, Swanson is likely going to be inactive on game day. Part of his value is probably as a punt returner, but he may well be mostly insurance in case something happens to Lucky Whitehead. In any case, he seems the most likely candidate to be the first one to go if the team needs a roster spot - but he is not the only one.

Darius Jackson

The Cowboys are clearly heavy at running back, and Jackson is listed as the RB4, which makes him, like Swanson, a very likely inactive on game day. If Lance Dunbar is able to contribute immediately, then Jackson is definitely a possible candidate for being released to make room if the Cowboys need a spot. Fullbacks Keith Smith and Rod Smith would also be possibilities, but the indications are that both are seen as key special teams contributors, plus both provide depth at their original position as well. Jackson just looks more vulnerable than they do at the moment.

Kavon Frazier

At first glance, he would seem to be ahead of both Swanson and Jackson, but being a safety may make him somewhat less valuable to the team, given how much of the time the team uses three corners in the nickel. J.J. Wilcox would probably be the player most would prefer to see go if the team decided it could best afford going from five to four safeties on the roster. Despite that, he seems to have real support as a special teams ace on the staff. And Frazier is listed behind him on the depth chart. That is not insignificant.

Any of these players would be expected to be signed to the practice squad if the team waived them, but that does come with the risk of losing them to another team. However, we saw how most of the players the Cowboys waived to get to the 53-man limit cleared waivers successfully, and that risk is also just part of doing business in the NFL. Of the three, Jackson would look like the most likely to be picked up by another team, if only because running back is generally considered the most plug and play position in the league. Jackson and Frazier are both draft picks, but as supplemental sixth-rounders they don’t represent large investments.

Of course the team may have an entirely different view of their roster, but these three seem to be the most likely candidates to be sacrificed when and if the team needs to clear a roster spot for someone else. They were all somewhat on the bubble coming out of the preseason, and have just exchanged that for a different bubble. The NFL is a tough business for those players down at the bottom of the roster. Injuries may make all this moot, but we really don’t want to see that happen. Given the way Dallas likes to churn the roster throughout the season, the guys at the bottom of the 53 can never be too secure in their jobs.

Follow me @TomRyleBTB

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