With the draft concluded, the Cowboys are now rolling forward in the offseason. Their roster is nearly complete, and we’ll be breaking down preseason roster cuts before you know it. With that in mind, here are eight players whose roster spots may be in jeopardy as we approach that time of year.
Back when Ronald Jones was signed, shortly after Ezekiel Elliott was released, it seemed likely that he’d end up being the second guy in the rotation at running back. After all, he was the 38th overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, has over 500 carries to his name, and has been a part of two Super Bowl winning teams.
Then the draft happened. Jones was already going to face competition from Rico Dowdle and Malik Davis, but now Deuce Vaughn has been added to the mix. And if the Cowboys end up really wanting a spot for Hunter Luepke, Jones could turn into the odd man out. He’ll have plenty of opportunities to solidify himself as the top RB2 option with Tony Pollard recovering from an injury, and Jones will need to make the most of it.
Neville Gallimore is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and it doesn’t seem likely that he’ll get another one regardless of whether he makes the roster for this season. Simply put, Gallimore has been a disappointment thus far, and his snap count dwindled towards the end of last season, even resulting in him being a healthy scratch for the Cowboys’ first playoff game.
There’s a reason why Gallimore is being listed as the most likely cut candidate. The coaching staff seems to have trouble finding snaps for him, and that was before taking Mazi Smith in the first round. It’s hard to envision a scenario where Gallimore sees an expanded role in 2023, and that could make it difficult to justify keeping him any longer.
If Gallimore is the most likely cut candidate on the roster, it’s only because most of us have already assumed Kelvin Joseph’s days are numbered. Taken in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, Joseph was expected to be a starter by now. But he was beaten out by Anthony Brown two years in a row, and when he did finally see the field after Brown’s injury last year he was quickly benched for an excessively poor performance.
Joseph was already considered embattled for his off-field struggles, but combining it with poor play on the field has seemingly become a death sentence. The cornerback room got significantly more crowded, too, with the additions of Stephon Gilmore, Eric Scott, Jr., and undrafted free agent Myles Brooks on top of Israel Mukuamu’s newfound versatility to play corner as well as safety. It’s now become very hard to figure out what benefit Joseph gives the Cowboys,
When Chauncey Golston was drafted in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft, Dan Quinn raved about his ability to play inside and out. He was slowly acclimated to the team as a rookie before falling behind on the depth chart. That led to his transition to a full time interior role for 2022, and Quinn once again hyped up his potential.
It didn’t happen, as Golston never played more than 39% of defensive snaps in a game and finished with just 13 tackles and one sack on the year. Now, Dallas has drafted a similar player in Viliami Fehoko, who Quinn has already talked about being able to play inside and outside. Golston may not be firmly on the bubble right now, but it certainly seems like the team is preparing to move on from him. Perhaps they’ll explore his trade value in the coming months.
The moment the Cowboys broke tradition and drafted Mazi Smith 26th overall, a massive target was placed on Quinton Bohanna’s very broad shoulders. A sixth-round pick in 2021, Bohanna was drafted to be the Cowboys’ next massive nose tackle after Dontari Poe had failed the year before.
By all accounts, Bohanna has been solid in his limited role. The issue is how limited his role has been, though, as Bohanna played on 24% and 30% of defensive snaps in 2021 and 2022, respectively. He’s also been a healthy scratch in all three playoff games over that span, which is not a good sign. Smith almost definitely makes Bohanna expendable, especially with Johnathan Hankins back in the fold as well.
Yet another member of the 2021 draft class makes an appearance here, as Jabril Cox was touted by many as one of the steals of the draft. Cox had been projected as a second-round pick but fell to Dallas in the fourth. Despite all of the hype, though, Cox has struggled to see the field, having yet to play even a tenth of the defensive snaps in a season.
With his pass coverage skills being a calling card for Cox, it’s all the more curious that he’s been iced out. And Dallas drafted a similar player - safety-turned-linebacker DeMarvion Overshown - in the third round this year. Like with Golston and Fehoko, that could be an early sign of danger for Cox.
This might be the longest shot of anyone on this list, as KaVontae Turpin burst onto the scene just a year ago and quickly became a fan favorite. One of the most electric return specialists in the NFL last year, Turpin should have an easy path to making the roster again in 2023.
Yet, the drafting of Vaughn has created some early concern about how safe Turpin really is. Vaughn was never much of a return man in college - just seven kickoff returns, none in the last two years, and zero punt returns - but his skillset lends itself to that area of the game. And if Turpin continues to struggle to see the field on offense, even with a new play-caller in Mike McCarthy, it could prompt some questions about Turpin’s overall value. It would certainly be a shock to see Dallas move on so quickly, but Vaughn might be able to challenge Turpin right from the jump.
Jourdan Lewis is a potential cut candidate through no fault of his own. He was quietly one of the better corners through the first half of last year when an injury knocked him out for the season. That’s when DaRon Bland burst onto the scene in his place. Now, Lewis returns for the final year of his current contract.
With Gilmore entrenched as the starter on the outside opposite Trevon Diggs, the slot is the only real option for Bland to get on the field. But with Lewis coming back, and having played at such a high level before his injury, it should be an even competition. That said, if Bland wins the starting job and another player - perhaps Mukuamu, who looked solid in the slot in the playoffs - shows enough to provide good depth, the Cowboys could save $4.7 million in cap space by moving on from Lewis, whether by trade or outright release. Dallas would be smart to let the competition play out first, but they do have options if Bland claims the top slot role.