Like all other NFL teams at this time of the year, the Cowboys have to be down to a 53-man roster by 4 p.m. ET Tuesday.
But unlike previous years, where the cuts have trickled in over a couple days prior to the deadline, the Cowboys this year seem to be intent on announcing the cuts in one fell swoop, possibly as late as Tuesday morning:
Cowboys don’t plan to begin notifying players of roster cuts today and possibly not until Tuesday morning. In the past, they typically do so over a two-day period. Ninety-man roster will reduce to 53 players by Tuesday at 3 p.m. CT.— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) August 27, 2023
Final cuts mark the end of a process that began in earnest with OTAs back in May, a process where players vie for roster spots, and a process where players move up and down the depth chart in line with their performance, with injuries, with Cowboys roster moves, and even with suspensions.
One way to get a feel for the up and down of the offseason roster is to look at how roster projections have changed since May. In late July, we published a summary of four different roster projections prior to camp. Two weeks ago, we followed up with three roster projections after three weeks of camp. And today we cap all of this off with a final look at another three roster projections after three preseason games.
All three projections come from observers who’ve been to training camp in Oxnard, have seen all preseason games, and generally have their ear close to the ground on all things Cowboys: Jon Machota of The Athletic, David Moore of the DMN, and Todd Archer of ESPN.
The three projections are combined in the tables below with the intent to contrast and compare the current projections with the previous two iterations. The table is color-coded accordingly:
GREEN: players that have improved their stock over the last four months
YELLOW: players whose spots don’t appear to be fully secure yet
RED: players that dropped off the list since the start of the offseason
|OUT: Davis & Jones|
|Out: S. Fehoko|
|Tyr. Smith||Tyr. Smith||Tyr. Smith|
|Tyl. Smith||Tyl. Smith||Tyl. Smith|
|Out: Hoffmann, Farniok|
On offense, Trey Lance is the obvious addition at quarterback.
At running back, the consensus seems to be that the Cowboys will carry just three guys. Early on, Ronald Jones and Malik Davis we expected to get the spots after Tony Pollard, but that has changed. Rico Dowdle was 0/4 on the projections heading into camp, now he’s a stable 3/3. That’s one guy who won his spot in camp for sure! Deuce Vaughan is also assured a spot here.
At wide receiver, it’s been an up-and-down ride for rookie Jalen Brooks. He was 0/4 at the start of camp, 3/3 three weeks in to camp, but now he dropped to 1/3. Turpin was a little shaky at first but he’s been 3/3 twice now, so he stays. Simi Fehoko is to be the odd man out, he doesn’t make any projection for the second time.
Tight end is probably more about whether the team carries three or four guys. Sean McKeon would be the fourth guy. No room for Hunter Luepke, at least for now.
Interesting dynamics on the O-Line: Edoga was a solid 4/4 before his injury, dropped briefly, but now appears a lock. Waletzko and Richards solidify their spots, but it’s T.J. Bass that is possibly the biggest winner of the preseason. He went 0/7 in the previous four projections, but is now a solid 3/3!
Hoffman and Farniok lost their spots over the last two weeks.
On to the defense:
|M. Smith||M. Smith||M. Smith|
|V. Fehoko||V. Fehoko||V. Fehoko|
|Linebackers||Vander Esch||Vander Esch||Vander Esch|
|D. Wilson||D. Wilson||D. Wilson|
|Specialists||Sieg* (LS)||Sieg* (LS)||Sieg* (LS)|
|Anger (P)||Anger (P)||Anger (P)|
|Aubrey (K)||Aubrey (K)||Aubrey (K)|
|CJ Goodwin*||CJ Goodwin*||CJ Goodwin*|
Neville Gallimore may have played himself on to the roster, much to the surprise of many and the chagrin of some. Gallimore was already a long shot (1/4) at the start of camp, was completely out after three weeks of camp (0/3), but may have secured a spot with his play in the preseason games.
At linebacker, Devin Harper moved ahead of Jabril Cox on the depth chart, and Cox may not make the team. Markquese Bell is expected to provide depth at linebacker, which is why he’s listed in this spot.
Eric Scott came into camp at 3/4, was at 2/3 after that, but is now at 3/3. Jourdan Lewis and Kelvin Joseph are both at 3/3, even if Jourdan Lewis (**) might still end up on the PUP. Nahshon Wright’s chances look slim.
At safety, Juanyeh Thomas is anther guy who played himself onto the roster.
If you looked closely at the projections above, you may notice that they all have 55 players on the roster, not the requisite 53. David Moore explains (*):
The Cowboys didn’t set aside a spot on the initial 53 for a long snapper last year before addressing that spot before the opener. Look for that to happen again with Trent Sieg. The same goes for special teams ace C.J. Goodwin, who will be on this roster opening night even though he probably won’t be there Tuesday.
As far as projections go, these three are probably as good as it gets at this point of the season, but if you want more projections to contrast and compare, here are three more from our writers:
- RJ Ochoa: Five players it’s difficult to leave off
- Tom Ryle: Roster projections based on stats
- Dan Rogers: Roster projection after Raiders game
Now we wait and see.