The Cowboys will have to trim their roster down to 53 players by 4:00 pm EST on Saturday. With this team being deeper than they’ve been in years, there are going to be some tough decisions to make. The suspensions of David Irving and Damontre Moore will free up a couple roster spots temporarily, however there are stories going on that could lead to some spots being tied up. The Cowboys could be saving some spots for these players:
- With the news of the NFL Players Association filing a temporary restraining order imminent on arbiter Harold Henderson’s ruling in an appeal of Ezekiel Elliott’s six-game suspension, the team will keep Zeke on the roster.
- Rico Gathers is a potential candidate to be placed on injured reserve, but for him to be able to return later in the season, he would initially have to occupy a roster spot.
- Jerry Jones was on 105.3 The Fan and revealed that Noah Brown is likely to make the roster, giving them a total of six wide receivers.
- And just a couple days ago, he said that they were “very likely” to keep all three quarterbacks on the team.
All these decisions will take up roster space so the question becomes - where are they going to get it from? To make room, the team is going to have to cut a little deeper than some of us expected and there could be a surprise coming.
Here are some players that could be a surprise cut:
The 28-year veteran was signed in free agency to fill a void. He’s been hitting his weight loss bonuses so the team is already into him for some money. They also have some questions along the offensive line to where keeping an extra guy would buy them more time to sort things out. Cutting him loose might seem a little risky.
But ultimately, he hasn’t performed well in camp and the team could just decide that eight is enough when it comes of their OL group.
Prediction: He’s gone. When having to cut players, the easiest thing to do is cut the bad ones.
It’s hard not to believe the Cowboys have a better feel for what they’re up against with the Elliott ordeal than all those other people trying to lay it out for us. The team has supported Zeke from the get-go and may very well believe that he was always going to be out there on the field in the opener. Morris has had a great camp and is a really nice piece to have, filling out the team’s running back depth chart. And that is why this decision would catch people off guard.
It’s a numbers game and the team has to go short somewhere. If Zeke is expecting to be their everyday starter, does the team really benefit from having two RB2 guys? With no special teams flexibility, Morris could be the odd man out.
Prediction: He stays. He’s just too good of a player to push to the curb, especially with how important the running game is for this team.
Typically, this move wouldn’t be a huge surprise. After all, White was a sixth-round draft pick and those players get cut all the time. But with all the other rookies missing action in training camp due to injury, the need for more cornerback depth is high. Duke Thomas was thought to be a guy who could answer the call, but he suffered a high ankle sprain last week. So that leaves White as the “next man up” to fill the void.
While it seems his chances of making the team are stronger now, there are couple reasons they could decide to pass. First, the team may feel better about the health of their young corners. Chidobe Awuzie is back to practicing and even though Jourdan Lewis isn’t, that doesn’t mean he couldn’t be part of the mix sooner than expected.
Jerry Jones tells The Fan Jourdan Lewis is so talented and has such instincts they can put him in situations that don't require practice.— Mark Lane (@therealmarklane) September 1, 2017
Hey, if it works for Allen Iverson...
If the rookies are still lagging in their recovery, the Cowboys could also survey the waiver wire and see if they could find someone a little more experienced to serve on a short-term basis until the youngsters are ready.
Prediction: They keep him. He’s been solid and they won’t risk him being picked up by another team.
I might be a little more understanding of keeping a non-impressive veteran quarterback around if 2015 didn’t happen where we all witnessed first hand what atrocious QB play can do to the team. I don’t think any of us would want to go through that again. So really, what’s the point in keeping Moore on the team?
While Jerry said that keeping QBs three appears to be the direction the team is going, they may do a catch and release....oh wait, no...a release and catch. They could cut him now with the intent of putting him on the practice squad so they can borrow that roster spot for Rico. Then, when they put Gathers on IR, they’d have a spot available to reclaim Moore. Of course, that’s all long as someone else doesn’t claim him. I guess we’ll all be on pins and needles for that one.
Prediction: They cut him. We’ve seen much better quarterbacks not get his job back over the last year so this one shouldn’t be that hard.
The surprise could be coming along the defensive line as Stephen Jones shared this news recently:
Okay, so let’s do the math. With Irving and Moore suspended, they don’t count against the roster so that leaves - DeMarcus Lawrence, Tyrone Crawford, Maliek Collins, Taco Charlton, Benson Mayowa, Stephen Paea, Cedric Thornton, Charles Tapper, and Lewis Neal. That’s nine. Who get’s bounced?
Well the obvious choice would be Lewis Neal as he’s the undrafted free agent rookie that is the last to join the party. But he’s been playing well and may get snatched in waivers. Plus, that’s not much of a surprise, so let’s dig a little deeper.
From a performance standpoint, this move wouldn’t be that shocking. In fact, many fans would show him to the door. With Paea around and the much younger, Neal - why keep him around? But from a salary cap perspective, he would be such a huge financial waste as he’d be a $6.75 million dead money hit ($4.25 this year, $2.5 next year since he’d be a post June 1st cut). And that’s why his release would be a surprise.
The team made a big decision in March when they kept him on the roster, fully guaranteeing his $3 M 2017 salary so that would lead people to think they still valued him. The Cowboys did next to nothing by drafting two late-round defensive tackles (Joey Ivie and Jordan Carrell) and neither of them are challenging for a roster spot. Is it possible that the progress of Paea and Neal is good enough to make Thornton expendable?
Money wasted or not, this is about keeping the best players and you have to ask yourself - is Thornton worthy of a roster spot? Could keeping him around mean losing out on a player with upside?
Prediction: They keep him. The Cowboys will take on his dead money hit, but it won’t happen until next season when it makes more sense financially.
He will forever be remember as the draft pick the Cowboys took before Dak Prescott as if that is supposed to mean he’s great or something. But go easy on him, there were 134 players drafted before Prescott. After missing last season with a back injury, Tapper has played fine in his real first season with the team. Unfortunately, the team is deep at defensive line and won’t have enough reps to go around.
Everyone is rooting for this guy, but he’s at the bottom of the depth chart when it comes to edge rushers. Tapper hasn’t played bad, but everyone else has made some big plays during the preseason. Ryan Russell was cut loose last year and that caught some of us by surprise. Could Tapper be next?
Prediction: He stays. He’s still young and can get better. The suspensions saved him for now.
That means that Lewis Neal is likely the choice to be released. That makes me sad.
Which player could you see as a surprise roster cut?