If you got out your pen and paper right now and started filling out a tentative roster, you’ll quickly find out that the team is going to have to cut some good players this year. That’s the price one pays for having such a deep team. It wasn’t always like this. The team’s had it’s share of star players at the top, but down toward the bottom things got a little impoverished. Those days are gone.
This season, roster spots will be precious, and the fallout of having such a deep team means we’ll have to say goodbye to some of our favorites. Some of these players will get beat out by better players. Some will fall victim to the numbers game where their position group is just really deep. And some of these players may be phased out with a new regime of coaches that have decorated The Star in recent years.
Here are three possible roster cuts that could see some of the players we’ve come to love no longer be a part of the Dallas Cowboys.
It seems like only yesterday when UDFA quarterback Cooper Rush was tearing up the preseason as he completed 75% of his passes and threw six touchdowns. He had a QB Rating of 135.9, which was almost twice as high and Cowboys new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. We couldn’t get enough of Cooper.
But then Rush came back down to earth last preseason. He completed 38 of 51 passes for 358 yards and only had one touchdown. Worse than that, he threw four interceptions, which was four more than he threw the previous year. And the belief that Rush could come in and save the day if Dak Prescott got hurt had suddenly vanished.
When you take a look at Rush’s passes in the preseason of 2017, you can still see that there’s a lot of extra air under the ball. Even though he had great numbers that season, there were many pass break ups directly related to balls hanging up for too long. Floating ducks just won’t cut it in the NFL. His draft profile made note of this weakness.
“He played in the MAC, not the SEC. If he made some of those throws against NFL cornerbacks and safeties they turn into pick-sixes. He’s a great kid, he’s smart, but he falls below the minimum standard for arm strength.” - Area scout for AFC team
And they weren’t lying.
Arm strength may be an issue for Rush, but it’s not a problem for last year’s fifth-round pick Mike White. Sure, he and Moore developed a friendship while White was still at Western Kentucky, but that won’t be the reason he’s chosen over Rush.
The Cowboys will keep White as their no. 2 quarterback because he will be able to make the tight window throws. This is a valued trait for a new receiving group that was built around precise, well-timed routes. White should be able to put the ball where it needs to go to move the Cowboys offense.
One of the drawbacks of White is that his pocket awareness and mobility aren’t ideal. He’s a fumble waiting to happen if he holds the ball too long. With the Cowboys having much better depth along their offensive line, this will help White hide some of these flaws once preseason rolls around. White should emerge as the better of the two backups this year.
Prediction: Rush is released; Cowboys only carry two quarterbacks.
In terms of character, there is so much to love about last year’s top free agent acquisition, Allen Hurns. And it was such a devastating thing to watch when he went down with a gruesome ankle injury early in the Wild Card game against Seattle. Our hearts went out to him.
But the Cowboys aren’t afforded the luxury of making roster decisions with their heart. The team picked up his option to allow him the opportunity to compete for a roster spot, but this does nothing to secure him a job come September. Hurns base salary of $4 million for the 2019 certainly doesn’t help his case, but the money factor is only part of it. His biggest problem is that the team is loaded with depth at wide receiver.
Currently, there are seven players who are capable of making the team. Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and recently acquired Randall Cobb should hold down the starting WR spots. Tavon Austin was brought back for another year so he should be a part of the mix as well. That’s four locks, leaving Hurns, Noah Brown, and Cedrick Wilson fighting for one or two spots. Brown’s value as a blocker as well as special teams ability could keep a roster spot warm for him. His in-line blocking will be extra important if the team moves on from Rico Gathers and only carries three tight ends. Wilson didn’t get a chance to show his stuff last year after being shelved with a shoulder injury. Hurns will have a hard time jumping one of the starters, and he really doesn’t offer anything unique to justify keeping him around for certain roles. As much as we love Hurns the person, it just doesn’t make much sense to keep him around if these other guys are healthy and playing how we expect them to.
Prediction: Released. It could come down to the final roster cuts, but the team may also do the noble thing and cut him loose early so he can have time with another team before the season begins. It will all come down to how soon they get a feel for what they have.
The team’s third-round pick of 2017 looked like such a great value after a solid rookie campaign where we watched him log the second most snaps of all the Cowboys corners. But right out of the gate, Lewis appeared to fall out of favor with new defensive backs coach Kris Richard. His lack of reps in camp translated into the regular season as Lewis didn’t see much action.
But to his credit, he played hard. The fiery spirit he displayed his rookie season when he got under the skin of Dez Bryant was alive and well. And despite the team trying to get him more snaps when they worked him into jet sweeps and kickoff return responsibilities, Lewis just couldn’t find his niche on the team. For the most part, the team had trouble finding a good role for him, however they sure game planned a great one when Lewis became the Kamara-stopper on passing downs.
#DallasCowboys CB Jourdan Lewis again subbing in to cover Alvin Kamara on passing down and making play— Context Matters (@dwainmcfarland) November 30, 2018
Huge staple of #Saints passing game is passes underneath to RBs in mismatches that turn into run after catch 1st downs (Saints 8th in league in RAC avg)#coachingmatters pic.twitter.com/TqGKv9e0vc
The Cowboys will feature the starting trio of Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, and Anthony Brown - leaving Lewis once again on the outs. Furthermore, the tall and lengthy Michael Jackson was drafted in the fifth round and we know how well Richard utilizes big corners. Those five guys may very well round out the teams corners, but there are a couple undrafted free agents who might have some say about that. Donovan Olumba and Chris Westry both have the size Richard looks for and if one of these guys emerges in training camp, this might alter the Cowboys roster plans going forward. The Cowboys just don’t have the room to keep six corners, so they’ll have a tough decision to make if they end up liking one of the UDFA’s. Maybe some other team feels they could better utilize Lewis and comes calling with a trade offer?
Prediction: Much to the chagrin of many Cowboys fans, Lewis is traded for some other player we are far less interested in having on the team.