The Athletic runs down every team’s roster cut, including Jon Machota’s thoughts on what the Cowboys did on Saturday.
Dallas Cowboys: OT Isaac Alarcon, RB Darius Anderson, LB Francis Bernard, CB Deante Burton, DE Ron’Dell Carter, S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, CB C.J. Goodwin, DT Justin Hamilton, DE Ladarius Hamilton, C Marcus Henry, TE Cole Hikutini, OT Mitch Hyatt, DE Joe Jackson, WR Jon’Vea Johnson, WR Tevin Jones, S Luther Kirk, LB Justin March, OT Wyatt Miller, OT Pace Murphy, FB Sewo Olonilua, WR Aaron Parker, C Adam Redmond, WR Devin Smith, CB Saivion Smith, TE Charlie Taumoepeau, QB Clayton Thorson, CB Chris Westry, G Cody Wichmann
Beat writer’s take: The Cowboys didn’t have many surprise moves on the final day of roster cuts, but releasing undrafted rookie free agent linebacker Francis Bernard was probably the biggest. He was impressive throughout training camp, but apparently that wasn’t enough as Dallas went with only five at the position. For the first time since 2013, the Cowboys kept their entire draft class. They also held onto undrafted rookie free agents TE Sean McKeon, OT Terence Steele and RB Rico Dowdle. Veteran cornerback C.J. Goodwin and veteran linebacker Justin March were also part of the cuts, however, both are expected to be back on the roster after a few moves are made. Both are considered valuable special teams contributors. According to a source, right tackle La’el Collins and linebacker Sean Lee are going to start the season on injured reserve, which will immediately open up two roster spots. – Jon Machota
For a complete list of the players who made the team, we got you covered (check out roster here).
The Cowboys had a great draft this year, so this should come as no surprise.
10 rookies (including this year’s seven-man draft class) have made the team: WR CeeDee Lamb (first round) CB Trevon Diggs (second round) DT Neville Gallimore (third round) CB Reggie Robinson (fourth round) C Tyler Biadasz (fourth round) DE Bradlee Anae (fifth round) QB Ben DiNucci (seventh round) RB Rico Dowdle (undrafted) TE Sean McKeon (undrafted) OT Terence Steele (undrafted)
Opportunities have been at a premium for rookies the last three weeks. The COVID-19 crisis canceled the spring offseason program. The team didn’t start practice until Aug. 14. Reps were scarce or inconsistent for some young players during a compressed camp schedule. And, there were no preseason games in which to stand out.
The last time every draft pick made the Cowboys’ roster was 2013, a seven-man class led by Travis Frederick and Terrance Williams. It has happened only six times in Dallas since the NFL Draft went to a seven-round format: 2013, 2007, 2005, 2004, 2001 and 2000.
Special teamers Justin March and C.J. Goodwin were among the cuts, but as Michael Gehlken explains, some of this is just a formality.
Their releases are purely procedural, designed to help the Cowboys retain as many players as the franchise covets. As veterans with at least four years of NFL experience, they are not subject to waivers and can be-resigned as early as Sunday. March and Goodwin’s absence from the initial 53-man roster helped Dallas keep more young talent. They created space for two players — exactly which is not clear — who otherwise would have been waived and perhaps lost as teams submit waiver claims that are processed on Sunday.
David Helman explains the method behind the madness of the Cowboys surprise linebacker cuts and what lies ahead.
Somewhat shockingly, two of those moves happened to be linebackers, as the Cowboys released Justin March and undrafted rookie Francis Bernard. This is curious purely from a numbers standpoint. The Cowboys entered training camp with just seven linebackers, and two of them – Sean Lee and Luke Gifford – are currently dealing with injuries. So, as it stands right now, the team currently has just three healthy linebackers in Leighton Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith and Joe Thomas.
There’s likely a good explanation for this. NFL rules stipulate that players must be on the initial 53-man roster in order to be brought back from injured reserve. If they are moved to injured reserve prior to the roster deadline, they are done for the year. It has already been reported that Lee might be moving to injured reserve for a stint. It stands to reason that the same could be done for Gifford.
After all, the window for bringing a player back this season is just three weeks – and there is also no limit to the number of players who can be brought back. March is a vested veteran with four years of NFL experience, so he could theoretically re-sign to the team later this week without clearing waivers. As a rookie, Bernard would have to clear the league’s waiver wire in order to return to the roster or the practice squad.
The Cowboys will start the season without their starting right tackle.
Collins has been dealing with a hip issue that kept him off the practice field late in the week, and he did not work much at all during training camp. Lee has been dealing with a pelvis issue that did not allow him to practice at all in training camp, but he played through the injury late last season.
In order to be eligible to play this season, Collins and Lee had to spend one day on the 53-man roster, which was announced Saturday, before moving to injured reserve.
The loss of Collins, who had his best season in 2019, would be a blow early in the season to the offensive line. The Cowboys would go with veteran Cameron Erving at right tackle, but late last week Brandon Knight suffered an ankle injury in practice. Rookie tackle Terence Steele, who saw first-team snaps early in camp while Collins and Erving were out, made the roster as an undrafted free agent.
Collins going to IR was a bit of a surprise, and that is definitely not an ideal way to start the season.
Standout right tackle La’el Collins has largely been sidelined for the bulk of training camp due to what CowboysSI.com has repeatedly reported is a “conditioning issue.” But on Saturday - NFL cutdown day - comes a troublesome update: Collins now also has a hip problem that according to ESPN figures to land him on the league’s new short-term IR list.
That’s not a full-blown disaster; Collins (and as many other Cowboys as need to, including Sean Lee) can come back to the active list after just three weeks. But in the meantime, Dallas is left grab-bagging at right tackle, with the on-paper best candidate, veteran offseason signee Cam Erving coming off a less-than-stellar camp, young backup Brandon Knight battling his own injury issues, and undrafted rookie free agent Terrance Steele as ... well, an undrafted rookie free agent.
Report: La’el Collins to join Lee on IR to start, has domino effect on 53 - K.D. Drummond, Cowboys Wire
The Collins situation may have had a trickle down effect to how the final roster shaped out.
Perhaps the Cowboys surprisingly carrying four tight ends on the initial roster (Blake Jarwin, Blake Bell, Dalton Schultz and rookie Sean McKeon) is because the team may end up forced to help out the right tackle on occasion for the first few weeks in trying to protect Dak Prescott. As high-flying as the Cowboys offense should be, perhaps the 11 and 20 personnel packages have to wait a few weeks before they can be regularly implemented if Dallas needs to run more 12 to keep a second tight end in to block.
What does that mean for the Cowboys starting right tackle on opening night?
Cam Erving, who Stephen Jones praised on SiriusXM NFL Radio, is probably your starting RT in Week 1.— Calvin Watkins (@calvinwatkins) September 5, 2020
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