The deadline to cut down to 53-man rosters ended yesterday. As expected, there was a lot of action across the NFL from teams trading bubble players to franchises making unexpected moves to get down to 53 players on the roster. With that said, there was a lot of Dallas Cowboys news over the weekend.
BTB’s OCC has everyone up to date on the latest Dallas Cowboys practice squad signings and all of the latest rumors. And if you missed yesterday's action, this post offers a blow-by-blow account of what happened yesterday.
Todd Archer breaks down the Cowboys’ moves and where the roster stands today.
Rosters should never be perceived as ‘final’ in the NFL, which the Dallas Cowboys proved Sunday with four roster moves Sunday.
They picked up defensive tackle Brian Price off waivers and cut defensive tackle Cedric Thornton. They traded for linebacker Jayrone Elliott from the Green Bay Packers and cut linebacker Mark Nzeocha. On Saturday, they traded for cornerback Bene Benwikere.
The massaging of a roster never really ends, especially on the weekend before the season starts.
With that in mind, here is an up-to-the-minute look at the Cowboys’ 53-man roster, while acknowledging so much could change in the next few days, from Ezekiel Elliott's suspension to the move of Rico Gathers to injured reserve to the return of quarterback Kellen Moore
The Cowboys made a surprise move on Sunday. The team traded a seventh-round pick for Green Bay Packers OLB Jayrone Elliott.
NFL 53-man rosters were “official” on Saturday at 3pm CT, but that does not at all mean that teams were done tinkering with them. The Cowboys have already made a few moves, including a trade on Saturday.
Per Todd Archer, the Cowboys sent a conditional seventh-round pick in 2018 to Green Bay in exchange for Elliott’s services. Jayrone becomes another Elliott on the Dallas Cowboys roster, and his presence could be an indicator that the Cowboys plan to move Anthony Hitchens to injured reserve. Even if they don’t move Hitchens, the Cowboys needed linebacker depth while he’s out.
Unfortunately, though, the Cowboys were forced to move on from Cedric Thornton just two years removed from signing the defensive tackle to a four-year, $17 million deal. This gave the Cowboys room to add the Packers linebacker.
Cedric Thornton was released by the Cowboys
Shortly after claiming former Packers DT Brian Price, the Cowboys answered the question as to who’s roster spot he would be taking. They have officially released Cedric Thornton.
It was just an offseason ago that Dallas signed Thornton to a four-year $17M deal in free agency after his exit from Philadelphia. Thornton was hardly ever impressive during his first season in Dallas, and as a result that was ultimately his last.
The Cowboys are also bringing back former LSU defensive tackle Lewis Neal, but to the practice squad.
Lewis Neal is headed to the practice squad
A popular pet cat around BTB was the undersized defensive tackle product out of LSU, Lewis Neal. While it was tough to see him let go by the Cowboys, given his smaller frame it was somewhat understandable.
In a matter of about an hour the Cowboys have made a lot of interesting moves at defensive tackle. Brian Price is in, Cedric Thornton is out, and Lewis Neal is a project worth working on that is now on the practice squad.
Neal seems pleased to be remaining with the organization, though:
Packers blog ACME Packing Company notes that Elliott was a “key component” of the Packers’ special teams unit and “flashed occasionally” on the defensive side of the ball.
Elliott has been in and out of the lineup over the past two weeks with back spasms, and has never quite broken out as a pass-rusher on defense. He has, however, been a key component of the Packers’ special teams over his three years with the team, and has flashed occasionally during his limited playing time on defense.
Elliott was a restricted free agent this offseason, but was not tendered. However, he returned to the Packers on a one-year contract this season worth just over $1.5 million with a $350,000 signing bonus. The Packers will carry that bonus on their salary cap as dead money this season.
Elliott was not the only former Packer to make his way onto the Cowboys roster, however. The team claimed Green Bay defensive tackle Brian Price off of waivers on Sunday morning. The former UTSA defender heads back to the Lone Star State.
The Dallas Cowboys claimed one player off waivers Sunday after NFL teams made their final cuts Saturday down to 53.
The Cowboys claimed defensive tackle Brian Price from Green Bay. He played his college football down the road at UT-San Antonio.
At 6-3, 318, Price is primarily a run-stopper up front. He went undrafted in 2016 and appeared in only one game for the Packers last season. He spent most of last season on Green Bay's practice squad.
While the Cowboys addressed some of their linebacker concerns by trading for Elliott, the Cowboys decided to move on from Mark Nzeocha.
The Cowboys gave up a 2018 seventh-round conditional draft pick to acquire Elliott, the source said, and will add him to their 53-man roster. The Cowboys released veteran linebacker Mark Nzeocha, a source said, to make room for the addition of Elliott. Nzeocha was mostly a special teams contributor in his two seasons with the Cowboys in 2015 and 2016.
The Cowboys needed depth at linebacker with Anthony Hitchens out eight weeks with a tibial plateau fracture in his right knee and Jaylon Smith still limited on his snap count as he recovers from his major left knee injury that kept him out all of his rookie season.
More roster news! This time on the practice squad. The ‘Boys are bringing back Blake Jarwin.
This is a move that’s good for the Cowboys. They’ve got Jason Witten on gold jacket/veteran status, Rico Gathers who could be headed for IR, and two tight ends who had season-ending injuries a year ago in James Hanna and Geoff Swaim.
Depth is always great, and depth is what the Cowboys now have at this position group.
As Dallas made their decision to revamp its secondary, J.J. Wilcox signed with the Buccaneers. However, he won’t be playing the 2017 season in Tampa.
Six short months after signing a two-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, safety J.J. Wilcox was traded on Sunday to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In return, Tampa Bay acquired a sixth-round draft pick in next year's draft, but also sent a seventh-round pick in the 2019 draft along with Wilcox to the Steelers.
More former Dallas Cowboys news: Andy Jones battled with Noah Brown and Lance Lenoir for the potential sixth receiver spot on the roster. However, Brown got the nod, leaving both Jones and Lenoir off of a 53-man squad. The Texans claimed Jones off of waivers on Sunday. Good luck, Andy!
Jones is a 6-1, 214-pound speedster who's run the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds and had a 41 1/2 vertical leap and a 6.97 three-cone drill coming out of Jacksonville University.
He spent time with the Cowboys on their practice squad. Jones knows all three wide receiver spots.
At the University of Florida Pro Day, Jones had a 10-7 broad jump. He caught 144 passes for 2,120 yards and 17 touchdowns for his career.
On Saturday, the Dallas Cowboys made an interesting move to improve their secondary. Dallas traded for former Carolina Panthers DB Bene Benwikere. RJ writes on the lineage between Benwikere and America’s Team:
Obviously the Cowboys like what they’ve seen of Benwikere since he entered the NFL in 2014, but there’s likely more to this story than their evaluation of him on tape. Dallas, like many other NFL teams, has trusted sources that it goes to when they have questions about particular players or position groups.
One football mind out there that’s been a resource to them before is current University of Colorado Head Coach Mike MacIntyre. For those unaware, MacIntyre served under Bill Parcells in Dallas from 2003-2006 as the team’s defensive backs coach.
MacIntyre’s first head coaching gig came in December of 2009 from San Jose State. Part of MacIntyre’s first recruiting class in preparation of the 2010 season was none other than than new Cowboys cornerback Bene Benwikere (where Benwikere also played with Keith Smith).
Chaz Green was once seen as a player with high potential in the eyes of Cowboys fans. But, unfortunate injuries have plagued the lineman’s career. Nonetheless, Horn writes that the coaching staff is still high on him.
Once upon a time, Green was penciled in to replace the retired Doug Free at right tackle this season. In what will be his third year, Green was to bookend the line opposite Smith, considered one of the NFL's premier left tackles.
However, the inevitable happened before he played a single preseason game. Green's body wouldn't cooperate. First it was missed practices due to physical ailments during organized team activities. Then a shoulder injury cost him valuable time in training camp. Soon after his shoulder was diagnoses as healed, a leg injury hit.
Because of this, the Cowboys moved La’el Collins to the outside and let Green battle former first-round selection Jonathan Cooper for the left guard job. Although Cooper has impressed while Green still battles injuries, the staff may actually prefer the latter.
The Cowboys privately would prefer that Green win the job. They consider him one of their top 5 offensive linemen when healthy and it would be good to have one of their own former high draft choices produce. As executive vice president and directory of player personnel Stephen Jones has often declared, the Cowboys expect third-round picks to make their way into the starting lineup by their second season, third at the latest.