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Cowboys roster cuts: Dallas made some interesting decisions in the secondary

The Cowboys made a lot of moves and kept a lot of cornerbacks, but how will their depth be to start the year?

Dallas Cowboys v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Getting from the 90-man training camp roster to the 53-man regular season roster was always going to be tough for the Cowboys, especially at what may be the deepest position on the roster, the defensive secondary.

And on Tuesday, as the Cowboys’ moves came across the wire, the decisions in the defensive back room did not disappoint. The most noteworthy moves?

Jourdan Lewis activated from PUP, and placed on the 53-man roster

The decision about what to do with Jourdan Lewis on the initial roster was always going to be interesting. He had a traumatic foot injury in October of last year, which according to Todd Archer of ESPN, left him in a boot/cast until April of this year. It was described as worse than a typical Lisfranc injury, and kept him out for the entirety of training camp.

This is the second year in a row the Cowboys chose not to utilize the roster mechanism of the reserve PUP list for an injured player who didn’t take part in a single training camp practice. In 2022 it was Michael Gallup, who was returning from a torn ACL, who the Cowboys activated on cutdown day. Gallup missed the teams first three games, and returned in Week 4 against Washington, and later admitted he wasn’t all the way back from the injury during the season.

The Cowboys have to be hoping to get a different outcome from Lewis, who will almost certainly be the Cowboys fourth corner whenever he is ready to return to the field.

But it reminds us of a question - What’s the definition of insanity again?

Kelvin Joseph traded to Miami for former first-round pick Noah Igbinoghene

This is a curious move because of the fact that Joseph seemed to be an ascending player for the Cowboys this year. He played very well in the preseason and is one of the best special teams players they’ve had on the roster the last two years. The team likely saw this as an opportunity to give him a fresh start and get a player they likely had a high draft grade on in Igbinoghene in return. It’s probably not much of an upgrade at this point, and does occupy a roster spot, but it’s a lottery ticket on a player they thought highly of and they got him for a player they were likely to release anyway.

There’s a lot of bodies, but somehow, they’re still starting the season without much depth

The result of the combination of these two moves is that the Cowboys are going to be extremely heavy in the defensive backfield. In total, they currently have seven corners and six safeties on the roster, and they’ll be bringing another defensive back, C.J. Goodwin, back onto the roster soon as well (likely a swap for Nashon Wright who could be headed to IR-to-return).

This is what’s difficult about the way the Cowboys have gone about the secondary. By choosing not to use the PUP mechanism for Lewis, trading Kelvin Joseph for another corner, and the fact that Eric Scott Jr. has not looked like a player ready to play meaningful NFL snaps, that leaves the Cowboys using seven roster spots on cornerbacks, but only three who will likely be ready to be contributors on defense against the Giants in Week 1.

The Cowboys safeties will be the coveralls for Dan Quinn’s defense

The Cowboys defense under Dan Quinn has been highlighted by a renewed investment in the safety position, and their willingness to use those safeties in a variety of roles. As mentioned, despite the seven corners on the depth chart, it is likely that safety Israel Mukuamu will actually serve as the fourth corner for the early weeks of the season, while Jayron Kearse, Donovan Wilson, and Marquese Bell will all supplement the fact that the Cowboys are carrying only three true off ball linebackers on the roster.

The safety position has truly become the magic sauce for the Cowboys defense.

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