Last Sunday here at BTB we discussed who the most important “jenga pieces” to the 2017 Dallas Cowboys were. For those unaware of what Jenga is (is there such a person?) the discussion was essentially who are the most critical members to success in Dallas.
Every good yin has a solid yang, so today were yang-ing back and going to discuss the most expendable members of the Dallas Cowboys roster. I’m sure this will go well.
Let’s be clear and state two things from the beginning:
- We love all Dallas Cowboys (plus this roster is loaded). We support them and want nothing but success for them. But as we gear up for training camp, pet cat season, and time to make tough decisions... we need to get a good on-the-bubble barometer.
- There are guys who we all know aren’t making this team. We’re talking about guys who’ve been on the team, higher-profile rookies, etc.. Saying Zac Dysert (no offense Zac) is expendable is obvious.
We’re going to tread lightly (shout out to OG Walter White) and enter the waters in the shallow end here. Lucky is a cute little gadget player, but it feels like the largest consensus might be reached on this topic with him.
Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, and Ryan Switzer make four wide receivers that we are 100% certain will make the team. People are on the Brice Butler fence, and Noah Brown is a pet cat with plenty of homes to take him in already. Lest we forget about the pet you ditched him for, Andy Jones. How does Lucky make it ahead of all of these guys?
His return game prowess (can we even call it a prowess?) is his only real selling point. He has nine receptions over two years (to be fair he’s had to compete with the receivers we just named sans Switzer). What about Lucky Whitehead’s game is something we can’t live without?
The truth of the matter is that Marquez is in a similar boat to Lucky in terms of a crowded room. Orlando Scandrick, Anthony Brown, Chidobe Awuzie, and Jourdan Lewis are four locks. Nolan Carroll is basically the Brice Butler of the secondary in that everyone wants to get rid of and thinks a late-round rookie is better than him, but I’ll take Carroll all day over White right now (we’ll get to Butler v. Brown).
Chidobe Awuzie’s position flexibility might allow Dallas to keep one less safety, opening the door for White; however, Leon McFadden is still lurking in the shadows. Sticking to the theme of this discussion... if Marquez isn’t on this team are we going to riot? Is his presence non-negotiable? The answer is no.
Tyron Smith, Chaz Green, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, La’el Collins - there’s five.
If we’re shooting for eight then we’ve got to pick three of Jonathan Cooper, Joe Looney, Byron Bell, Dan Skipper (the dude is a mountain) and Emmett Cleary. Is Cleary really one that you’ve got to have Week 1 against the Giants? Is he one that you have to have over two of the others (plus other options)? Nope and no.
I’m immediately ducking for cover.
In all seriousness, if Lucky Whitehead is expendable then isn’t Noah Brown? I get the love, and I really like Brown’s game, but is his status on the 53-man roster going to make-or-break this team’s chances of success this season?
You’ve got the four we mentioned in the Lucky discussion plus Brice Butler here (and Andy Jones... he’s even being forgotten just a few paragraphs later). Here are the questions you have to ask yourself:
- Do you believe Noah Brown will someday be a better wide receiver than Brice Butler? The answer is somewhere between the lands of probably and definitely.
- Is Noah Brown, the 31st wide receiver drafted in one that saw 32 taken, better than Brice Butler today? Of course not.
A year ago the confines of Cowboys Nation were ready to cement Brice in as this team’s number two wideout ahead of Terrance Williams. Now some are seriously saying that Brown is already better than him.
Noah Brown is really exciting and potentially going to be something great, but he’s absolutely not something you can’t live without in 2017.
When discussing the biggest jenga pieces you arrive at Sean Lee quite quickly, but then you remember that when Lee missed all of 2014 the Dallas Cowboys won 12 games. So how vital is he really in that sense?
James Hanna missed the entire 2016 season and somehow, someway the Cowboys managed to overcome this and won 13 games. Sean Lee is the exception to this rule (because every rule has an exception), but this is essentially enough to literally prove that James Hanna is expendable.
Entering 2016 the Cowboys carried Jason Witten, Gavin Escobar, and Geoff Swaim. Gold Jacket Witt and the Swaim Train will be back this season, but Gavin Escobar has run himself over to Kansas City. So we’re tasked here with replacing Gavin (oh no how will we ever do this).
Gavin Escobar had one of the most beautiful blocks ever that allowed Ezekiel Elliott to gallop into the endzone of the Pittsburgh Steelers for the game-winner last November, but is James Hanna the locked-in 100% replacement for that?
It could theoretically come down to Dallas weighing how much they want Hanna in 2017 against how much they don’t want to lose Rico Gathers for the foreseeable future. Uncle Rico could get poached from the practice squad, so is his future talent enough to make Hanna expendable? It’s one of the more curious options entering training camp, and one that could easily be avoided if the Cowboys just carry four tight ends.
Who do you think is expendable? Who on this list isn’t? Let us know, because that’s what’s the most fun!