In addition to trimming the amount of preseason games down to three, the NFL has also changed the rules for roster cuts. As a result, the Cowboys will have to cut down from 90 players to 85 by Tuesday. Unlike most teams, who have only had one preseason game to base their decisions off of, the Cowboys are lucky enough to have seen their players in two games.
So with that in mind, and with the cut date approaching quickly, here are a few players who could find themselves on the market in just a few short days.
Reggie Robinson, CB
This would be a bit of a surprise, as Reggie Robinson was a fourth-round pick just last year and still hasn’t really gotten a chance to show what he can do. After struggling mightily last year with a switch to safety, Robinson moved back to cornerback under Dan Quinn this year.
There hasn’t been much said about Robinson, as he’s been overshadowed by other young corners such as Trevon Diggs, Kelvin Joseph, and Nahshon Wright. The little that has been said about Robinson has been positive, but the reality is he’s playing in a crowded position room after the Cowboys brought back Jourdan Lewis and drafted both Joseph and Wright.
To make the roster, Robinson needed to have the kind of head-turning performance that Maurice Canady has had. The fact that Canady has done that so far instead of Robinson may be what makes this staff give up on Robinson at such an early juncture. Even if Robinson survives Tuesday, the Cowboys may not be long on him going forward; Robinson played on 51% of defensive snaps and 35% of special teams snaps in the Hall of Fame game, but saw 31% of defensive snaps and 46% of special teams snaps against the Cardinals. It seems as if Robinson’s path to the 53-man roster is getting more and more narrow.
Sewo Olonilua, FB
One of the better changes last year was the ability to reactivate an unlimited amount of players from the injured reserve just three weeks after placing them on the list. That rule change was kept for the 2021 season, but the wrinkle is that players who are added to the injured reserve list prior to the start of the regular season are ineligible to return.
That could end up being the fate of second-year fullback Sewo Olonilua, who’s expected to miss significant time with an injury. He was already in a competition with undrafted rookie Nick Ralston for the fullback job, and there’s not even a guarantee Dallas keeps a fullback at all. Ralston has looked good in both preseason games, which makes Olonilua’s absence all the more detrimental to him.
Last year, Olonilua was cut in preseason but stuck around on the practice squad, so the team clearly likes him. Perhaps they could look to add Olonilua to the injured reserve now and wait until next year to give him a chance at making the roster, as opposed to rushing him back to maybe get a spot. This way they’d free up a spot without actually getting rid of a player long term.
Anthony Hines, LB
On that same note, undrafted rookie Anthony Hines could be in a similar situation to Olonilua. He’s quietly been one of the more impressive undrafted rookies so far for Dallas, and he was getting some burn on special teams before what looked to be a bad shoulder injury against Arizona.
There hasn’t yet been an update on Hines’ status, but it’s not uncommon for promising undrafted rookies to get stashed on a team’s injured reserve list if possible. It allows the team to keep them around for a year without using up a practice squad spot. If the Cowboys do indeed like Hines and want to give him a shot in camp next year, he could be moved over to the injured reserve as part of Tuesday’s cuts.
Brennan Eagles, WR
When Brennan Eagles was signed as an undrafted free agent, the intrigue was there right away. Not only is there irony in a player named Eagles playing for the Cowboys, but at 6’3” he’s a big target who played his college ball for the Texas Longhorns.
However, Eagles has not done much to help his case thus far. Other undrafted rookie receivers have outperformed him in both preseason games, as have Malik Turner and Simi Fehoko. In the Hall of Fame game, Eagles caught just one of his two targets and got called for holding on a special teams play. Against Arizona, he didn’t sniff the field on offense and played sparingly on special teams.
It was always going to be a tough task for Eagles to make this roster, and special teams ability was one major avenue for him to do so. But through two games, Eagles just hasn’t stood out, and it wouldn’t be a shock for Dallas to indicate as much when they finalize their roster cuts for Tuesday’s deadline.
Osirus Mitchell, WR
Much like Eagles, Osirus Mitchell was an intriguing undrafted free agent acquisition who, if nothing else, should have provided some training camp highlights. Hailing from Dak Prescott’s alma mater, Mississippi State, Mitchell stood at a towering 6’5” and figured to be someone who could make the occasional circus catch.
But he just hasn’t done much. He’s been targeted once in each preseason game and has registered zero catches. Mitchell has also played sparingly in both games, a reflection of what he’s done - or, rather, hasn’t done - in training camp. With other receivers like Aaron Parker, Reggie Davis, and Brandon Smith making actual contributions in the first two games, Mitchell has probably become the odd man out.
Artayvious Lynn, TE
Artayvious Lynn was already at a disadvantage because the Cowboys’ tight end group was pretty solidified. Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz are the top two by far, and there was a bit of a competition between Sean McKeon and Jeremy Sprinkle for the third, and likely final, tight end spot. McKeon was easily winning that, but his injury against the Cardinals likely makes him a candidate for the injured reserve after final roster cuts.
That could open up a door for Lynn, although not by much. He was limited to just seven snaps on both offense and special teams against the Steelers, and that dropped to five total snaps against Arizona. Lynn also saw zero targets in either game, while fellow undrafted rookie tight end Nick Eubanks saw significantly more snaps in both games and caught two passes against Arizona.
It certainly seems like Lynn has too much ground to make up at this point, although the McKeon injury does change things. Dallas may opt not to cut Lynn just yet simply due to a numbers game, but the rookie is still in an uncomfortable spot right now.
Kyron Brown, CB
Much like Reggie Robinson, Kyron Brown seems to just be unlucky right now. There’s too many cornerbacks on this roster that Dallas is almost definitely keeping, and Brown isn’t one of them.
Added just before the Steelers game, Brown had a few big moments in that game. Two of his three tackles went for a loss and Brown seemingly did enough to earn more snaps against the Cardinals. But instead, Brown didn’t play at all. The only other cornerback who didn’t play was special teams ace C.J. Goodwin, who’s been nursing an injury. That can’t bode well for Brown, although it does prompt the question of what went wrong for him. Either way, he could very well be sent home.