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After news of his arrest, is Terrance Williams’ job at risk with the Cowboys?

The team reloaded their wide receiving group this offseason and that leaves very little margin of error for those hoping to make the team.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Oakland Raiders Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

It hasn’t been your typical offseason for the Cowboys wide receiver group. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite as it’s almost been sitcom-ish when you think about all the things that have transpired. Let’s recap what’s happened so far...

Dez Bryant - released.

Cole Beasley’s rap album - released.

Ryan Switzer - traded.

Brice Butler - left in free agency.

Terrance Williams - arrested after crashing up his Lamborghini.

There has been no shortage of excitement with this group. Thankfully, the Cowboys have been busy revamping their wide receivers in a multitude of ways. First, they addressed the position in free agency, signing both Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson. Then, they drafted a couple youngsters in Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson last month. And they even traded for Tavon Austin as well.

With three receivers departing, and five new players arriving that leaves the Cowboys sitting with eight possible candidates to make the roster if you include second-year player Noah Brown. And although it’s quite a long-shot, we can’t rule out dark horses like K.D. Cannon, Malik Earl, and Lance Lenoir. The point is, things are crowded and the competition is fierce. Nothing is guaranteed and with the latest slip up by Terrance Williams, even his job is not safe.

Financially speaking, it wouldn’t make sense for the Cowboys to cut Williams. Last offseason, Williams signed a four-year, $17 million deal. According to spotrac, here are the details of that contract:

Williams signed a team-friendly deal last year, but part of what made that deal so agreeable was that the team guaranteed $9.5 million, which included his base salary in 2018. As you can see from the red circle, the Cowboys would endure a pricey dead money hit if they chose to release him compared to what it would cost to keep him on the roster (blue circle). Next season, however, the team can save $2.25 million in cap space by cutting him loose and absorbing a much smaller deal money hit (green circle). This would seem like the most obvious path for the veteran receiver barring some great rebound season this year.

Because of the financial implications, Williams looks like a lock to make the roster. There is no overall financial gain in releasing him and it’s actually cheaper on the books this season to keep him. But this is the same type of logic that made many of us think Cedric Thornton wasn’t going anywhere last year, yet we were caught off guard when the Cowboys released him. Like Williams, Thornton also had a base salary that was guaranteed so the team gained nothing financially by cutting him. They went ahead and took on a $6 million dead money cap hit.

The Cowboys decision to release Thornton had more to do with roster space and the other options they had at defensive tackle. Unfortunately, the team saw starting DT Stephen Paea retire unexpectedly and his backup Brian Price suffer a season-ending injury shortly thereafter. I’m not sure what the team saw in Thornton, but it seemed like his services could have been used in Dallas. Thornton signed on with the Buffalo Bills and played on 35% of their snap counts last season.

Williams will face a similar ordeal. His contract gives him an edge, but ultimately he’s got to be better than the best bubble guy at the position. New draftee Cedrick Wilson is a late-round pick, but his skill-set is intriguing and his contract would be easy on the salary cap for the next four years. Noah Brown already proved he was worthy of a roster spot last year and is looking to stay on the team. He’s also cheap, can block well, and is a valuable contributor on special teams. And let’s not write off Deonte Thompson. He has 4.3 speed and can be a nice deep threat option for the offense.

Williams’ first setback occurred in April when he broke his foot. The time he will miss will open up opportunities for other players. Should one of them take advantage of this opportunity, it could put Williams future in jeopardy in Dallas. But not only does Williams have to fend off these other receivers, there could be other players coming for his job as well. The Cowboys don’t have to go six deep at WR like they did last year. Most people just assume that will happen because of how much talent is there, but what if Dallas needs that roster spot for another position? You could make a case that there are several different players competing with Williams to make the roster.

One of the positives about Williams has been his character. For all the things he’s done wrong on the football field, the coaching staff loves the way he approaches the game and the sacrifices he makes for the greater good of the team. His arrest is just the first off-field mistake he’s made in his career and there is nothing about him that gives the team reason to think this could become a pattern. But Williams’ biggest concern is all the competition this team has created all over the roster.

TDub’s contract still gives him an edge, but as we saw last season - money doesn’t save you a seat in Dallas. Maybe all these incidents will cause him to play with a little more fire and come out scratching and clawing to keep his job. One thing is certain, he better bring his best stuff because there are some talented young players just waiting to step up and wear the star.

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