On Sunday, the Cowboys played the Jaguars in the fourth and final preseason game of the year. That gave the coaches one last opportunity to evaluate the players at the bottom of the roster before the Cowboys and every other team will have to finalize their roster.
By 4:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, all NFL teams must reduce their rosters to a maximum of 53 players on the active list. The Cowboys are currently maxed out at the mandated 80 players, which means 27 players have to be cut over the next few days - and you can follow all the latest developments in our roster cuts tracker.
The competition for a Cowboys roster spot is tough this year, and that will force the Cowboys to release a lot of veteran players.
- Right now, it looks like seven of eleven draft picks will make the roster (Micah Parsons, Kelvin Joseph, Osa Odighizuwa, Nahshon Wright, Jabril Cox, Josh Ball via IR, and probably Quinton Bohanna). DE Chauncey Golston remains on the PUP list and won’t count against the 53-man limit. Those seven rookies will increase the pressure on the veteran players trying to make the team.
- A big part of cutting down the roster is about special teams and about which 46 players will be active every week. The Cowboys would like to keep players who can develop into position players while performing well on special teams until they are ready - a mindset that clearly favors the potential of the young guys over the experience of the veteran guys.
- Undrafted free agents like FB Nick Ralston or RB JaQuan Hardy could be in the mix for the 53, further putting pressure on veteran roster spots.
The Cowboys brought in a bunch of “name” players during free agency: DE Tarrell Basham, LS Jake McQuaide, OT Ty Nsekhe, DT Carlos Watkins, DT Brent Urban, S Damontae Kazee, S Jayron Kearse, P Bryan Anger, TE Jeremy Sprinkle, LB Keanu Neal, and S Malik Hooker. Not all of them are assured a spot on the 53, even a bigger name like Malik Hooker:
Malik Hooker won’t be a Week 1 starter for Cowboys. Not involved on special teams. Seems likely to stick with Dallas to begin year, although not necessarily on 53. Last year, DB Brandon Carr started on Cowboys’ practice squad. Possible here? Would allow more time to acclimate. https://t.co/ea9CGeoeXj— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) August 28, 2021
But there are also a number of second- or third-year players whose names pop up in the roster conversation. QB Ben DiNucci, DE Bradlee Anae, DE Ron’Dell Carter, DE Azur Kamara, LB Francis Bernard, LB Luke Gifford, or TE Sean McKeon are all in contention for some of the final roster spots, but not all will make it.
But even the “final roster cuts” on Tuesday won’t really be final.
A day after final roster cuts last year, the Cowboys claimed WR Malik Turner off waivers from Green Bay and released LB Joe Thomas to make room on the 53-man roster.
Bottom of the roster veterans live dangerously in Dallas in late August/early September.
Here are the 14 veterans I believe are on the bubble and might not make the cut on Tuesday:
- QB Cooper Rush
- QB Ben DiNucci
- OT Eric Smith
- OL Isaac Alarcon
- TE Jeremy Sprinkle
- WR Malik Turner
- WR Aaron Parker
- WR Stephen Guidry
- WR Johnnie Dixon
- S Stephen Parker
- CB Deante Burton
- DE Ron’Dell Carter
- DE Azur Kamara
- LB Francis Bernard
Which veteran players do you see getting cut on Tuesday?