The Cowboys have been quite active in constructing their roster over the past few days. Every year, folks tend to overreact to their lack of movement during free agency. This front office has changed its wheeling and dealing ways of the past, or has it?
When the Cowboys commit to going after someone, they are still one of the toughest teams to compete with. What the Cowboys have changed about their philosophy is the “players to price” ratio that Stephen Jones talks about. Paraphrasing him, you don’t want to get into a habit of paying high prices for good to average production. Still, you remain active in churning the roster as “player acquisition is a 365 day-a-year business” as he often says.
Well, since the first draft of the 53-man roster was constructed, the Cowboys have been making lots of moves. What you have to appreciate is the sense of urgency in which they have attacked this whole weekend. Sometimes patience isn’t always a virtue and the Cowboys wasted no time in trying to improve their roster before the season starts.
They deserve credit for what Bryan Broaddus calls “knowing your personnel”. The Cowboys evaluated their roster and came to a conclusion that they weren’t content with it. They also understood that staking claims for guys doesn’t favor them when they are 28th in the pecking order. Realizing that, they went to the market to make deals.
To be honest, maybe some of us didn’t give them their due in being able to make those tough business decisions. A recap of their weekend showed that the Cowboys aren’t exactly blinded by affinities for players:
Kellen Moore’s release - Now, there is little doubt that he may end up back on this roster at some point but he wasn’t among the additions on Sunday. Scott Linehan has grown really fond of the lefty but you can see that not everyone is sold on him. Cooper Rush created and ended the competition for backup quarterback. We’ll just have to see if this remains the case.
Acquiring Bene Benwikere - The 25-year old cornerback has bounced around a little bit but the Cowboys’ liked him enough to send a conditional 2019 sixth-round pick to the Bengals for him. For now, he adds depth to a position of need. Chidobe Awuzie has one preseason game to his name and Jourdan Lewis is likely to be inactive for a while. They saw an opportunity to add a veteran player to the mix.
Poaching the Packers Pt. 1 - It started with the Cowboys claiming DT Brian Price who had a strong summer competing for a spot in Green Bay. Price finished the preseason with 11 tackles, two forced fumbles, and a sack.
From the reaction on Twitter, Packers fans were really hoping to keep Price around. The Cowboys released Cedric Thornton in his second year of a four-year deal. Thornton did not give the Cowboys the disruptive/versatile player they saw in Philadelphia. By elevating Price to the 53, it showed that they have confidence he can be of more help than Thornton.
Poaching the Packers Pt. 2 - The Cowboys weren’t done as they traded a conditional seventh in 2018 for the rights to outside linebacker, Jayrone Elliott. He served as the primary backup to Clay Matthews over the past few seasons. In three seasons, Elliott has played in 38 games, has 57 tackles, four sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble.
To make room for Jayrone, linebacker Mark Nzeocha was released. Elliott offers up some pass rush potential which is needed but he’s also a really good special teamer. He led the Packers with 13 tackles on special teams last season.
The Dallas Cowboys didn’t go out and try to land a Pro Bowler like T.J. Ward or anything but they did what was necessary in their minds to be a better team. The roster churning is not likely over but already the Cowboys have made surprise cuts, a few trades, and a claim. Nobody can say that they sat on their hands like some folks did during free agency. This team was quite aggressive with their roster and they deserve a little recognition for their efforts.