It has only been a couple of days since the Dallas Cowboys put together their initial 53-man roster and then a day later assembled most of their practice squad. But things have been changing, and not always according to plan. If you are a bit confused about a thing or two, don’t feel badly. It got a little strange, which seems right in line with what had happened the previous two days. So here is a summary of what the team accomplished yesterday, and what is still not quite done.
Noah Brown went on injured reserve and Deonte Thompson replaced him on the roster.
There was a good bit of consternation about Noah Brown being on the 53-man roster while both Lance Lenoir and Deonte Thompson were released. But it turned out that there was a plan in place all along, as Brandon George reported at Sportsday.
The reason the Cowboys kept Brown initially on the 53-man roster instead of Thompson came down to waivers. If the Cowboys would have released Brown, he would have been exposed to waivers and any team could have claimed him. Thompson is a vested veteran and doesn’t go through the waivers process, therefore he was free to sign with any team.
However, the Cowboys talked to Thompson before the release and told him they planned to re-sign him so he didn’t look for another team, knowing it would come soon with Brown being moved to injured reserve.
This was a case where the team had a way to control things, and it all went as planned. And despite the reaction of the fans and some in the media, it was something that made sense from the start. Brown was one player who had been mentioned as an IR candidate before, and Thompson was the obvious candidate to come back to the roster, since Lenoir had already been signed to the practice squad, and there was a million dollars in bonus money already invested in Thompson.
The same kind of thing was supposed to happen with Datone Jones and Brian Price, but, Raiders.
Like Brown, Datone Jones had been injured and was seen as another likely player to put on IR. Price was intended to be the player brought back to the team in his place.
But there was one problem. Unlike Thompson, Price was not a vested veteran, and therefore subject to waivers. And the Oakland Raiders put in a claim on Price, meaning he is now on their roster. (I guess they needed another defensive lineman after trading away Khalil Mack, but they might be overestimating Price’s value just a tad. OK, maybe that is not the real plan - although it almost seems plausible with what is going on with them.) As a result, it appears that Jones has not actually been placed on IR yet. The Cowboys appear to be sorting through their options to line up another replacement before they make the move official. And there is no rush, since using Tyrone Crawford as a DT gives them four without Jones. Although it probably won’t happen, the Cowboys could carry Jones on the roster for a game or so and just make him inactive. Or, if they think his injury would heal up in a few weeks, they can just keep him until he’s ready to play, as the plan is for Travis Frederick. But most likely, they will revert to the original plan, as soon as they identify who will take his place.
The shuffle extended to the practice squad.
Unexpectedly, the Green Bay Packers signed running back Darius Jackson off the Dallas practice squad. It was a bit of a surprise because he was not claimed and cleared waivers. The Packers could simply have put a claim in for him, but didn’t. Maybe they missed on another target, or just took a bit longer to decide to add a running back, but for whatever reason, they took him and created another hole for the Cowboys to fill. That did not require much searching, as Dallas signed Bo Scarbrough, who had been cut on Saturday. That makes it appear that it was a close race between Jackson, Scarbrough, and Jordan Chunn, who was already on the PS. Now, Scarbrough has another chance to prove himself. Oh, and all of the 2018 draft picks are now on the payroll, which is a good showing.
It is interesting that the Cowboys want two RBs on the PS, but given that they only are carrying Ezekiel Elliott and Rod Smith, plus fullback Jamize Olawale, on the 53-man roster, they probably need them just to be able to have an effective scout team each week. Of course, Chunn and Scarbrough also serve as a ready reserve if (knock on wood until your knuckles bleed) Smith or Elliott should be injured.
On a related note, while the Cowboys had no players claimed after the initial cuts, they now have two that have been signed to the 53-man roster by other teams. That does indicate that the depth of the team is not all that bad.
Oh, and Jihad Ward is back in the NFL, while Dan Bailey may be soon.
The to-do list.
So the Cowboys still have to find a replacement for Price, plus they still have two open practice squad positions. And those are just the known needs. They still have other places they might want to try and improve the roster, including the offensive line, the secondary, perhaps a running back, and they might be looking hard at some of the quarterbacks who have come on the market. There will almost certainly be some more activity as the first game with the Carolina Panthers draws closer, and some bottom of the roster churn is always possible.
Hope you are all clear on what happened on a rather busy Monday.