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A Nolan Carroll Suspension Could Actually Be A Blessing In Disguise For Dallas

Could there be a silver (and blue?) lining to a suspension potentially hitting Nolan Carroll? The answer is definitely not no.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys Rookie Minicamp Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s be clear and say that any suspension is a bad suspension. It’s not like the order is executed, a player is suspended, and anybody with a rooting interest in said player high-fives.

That being said, there’s a lot to unpack when it comes to suspensions. The obvious is that you’re without the suspended player for a period of time, but there are a few more layers to this onion.

Get hypothetical with me and pretend that Dallas Cowboys CB Nolan Carroll is suspended for his recent arrest. What would that cause? Panic? Uproar? How about a calm mind that processes the ripple effect it has on the team and how that might be a potentially beneficial thing?

Unfortunately for Cowboys fans we’re all-too-familiar with defensive players being suspended to start the season; however, this means that we’re well-versed in all of the intricacies of them. Should Nolan Carroll indeed be suspended for, let’s say, four games... he would not count against the Dallas Cowboys 53-man roster for the first quarter of the season.

This has been interesting along the defensive line every season with suspensions belonging to Greg Hardy and DeMarcus Lawrence, but the cupboard was pretty bare behind them in that position group. Nolan Carroll is different in that there are a lot of spicy options in the secondary as we enter the season:

2017 Dallas Cowboys Secondary

Player Position Chances Of Making 53-Man Roster
Player Position Chances Of Making 53-Man Roster
Chidobe Awuzie CB Lock
Robert Blanton S Fringe
Anthony Brown CB Lock
Nolan Carroll CB Lock
Kavon Frazier S Lock
Jeff Heath S Lock
Byron Jones S Lock
Jourdan Lewis CB Lock
Leon McFadden CB Fringe
Jeremiah McKinnon CB Doubtful
Orlando Scandrick CB Lock
Sammy Seamster CB Doubtful
Jameill Showers S Doubtful
Duke Thomas CB Doubtful
Marquez White CB Fringe
Xavier Woods S Lock

As you’ll see there are a Tony Romo nine number of projected (projected by me obviously but I know you agree 100% don’t worry) locks to make the 53-man roster, five cornerbacks and four safeties. This is obviously lumping Carroll in with the locks.

It was when I was reading Tom Ryle’s OTAs breakdown that I remembered this list, and the amount of fringe guys on it.

Nolan Carroll’s expected suspension may actually work to the team’s advantage.

We still are waiting for official word from the league on disciplinary action stemming from Carroll’s DWI arrest, but that seems almost certain. While having to rely on rookies is not ideal, that would open snaps for Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Marquez White. That could be important, especially for White. Awuzie and Lewis will make the roster if healthy, but White has a much bigger challenge as a sixth-round pick. If he can rise to the challenge while getting some playing time in Nolan’s absence, he can do himself a world of good. All three can benefit from getting on the field more than they would otherwise. We just have to hope they won’t have rough debuts.

If you’re buying my locks then you’re one safety short of matching 2016’s initial 53-man roster in terms of cornerbacks and safeties. The Cowboys may choose to use that spot on an extra cornerback due to Chidobe Awuzie’s position flexibility, or maybe things will get really wild and they’ll use it to carry Darrelle Revis, who Dez Bryant is recruiting to Dallas by the way.

Maybe you want that extra DB to be Marquez White. Or perhaps you really want Leon McFadden on this team. Who knows, maybe there are more Robert Blanton loyalists than we all fully realize. If Nolan Carroll is suspended then for four weeks you can have two out of three (or someone who plays a different position entirely) while you make up your mind even more.

The silver lining behind a would-be Carroll suspension isn’t just in terms of delaying making up your mind who you want. Football is obviously a game where players get hurt constantly. Remember how badly the secondary was hit by injury last season?

The sooner the Cowboys can lock up playoff possibilities, the sooner they can start resting players, starting with Scandrick. The Cowboys secondary has been hard hit by injury this season, getting them all healthy before the playoffs start would be a huge bonus. It doesn’t sound like Scandrick will be 100%, but a few weeks of rest could certainly help.

Of the nine projected locks we have here, are you fully confident that no one will sustain any kind of injury in the first four weeks? Wouldn’t it be somewhat of a luxury to keep Nolan Carroll on ice and drop him back in in Week 5?

The Cowboys might already be without David Irving for the first four weeks - we all still wait official word on that front - but it’s not like they’re playing anybody that instills supreme fear in us that Carroll would quell:

  • Week 1: New York Giants and Eli Manning... granted Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, and Sterling Shephard are very dangerous.
  • Week 2: at Denver Broncos and Trevor Siemian... bring it on.
  • Week 3: at Arizona Cardinals and Carson Palmer... did he get younger over the offseason?
  • Week 4: Los Angeles Rams and Jared Goff... King Joffrey lasted longer than King Goff.

Am I alone in that it sounds pretty not-so-bad for Carroll to miss these games? The Cowboys would benefit in having an extra month of time to figure out exactly how they want to construct the rest of the roster, and Carroll would be a guaranteed healthy player come Week 5. I like those odds.

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