FRISCO – The Dallas Cowboys believe they employ a “franchise quarterback” and personnel at the top of the defensive rotation featuring marquee playmakers.
But it’s going to take 53 guys to compete. And that process – of determining the “final” 53-man roster (that isn’t really “final”) is now underway.
On Sunday, the Cowboys waived Amon Simon, the rookie offensive lineman from Texas A&M-Commerce, and rookie defensive end Markaviest Bryant from Central Florida, the Dallas News is the first to report.
Additionally, fan favorite TJ Vasher is out at receiver. Joining the Texas Tech product is UDFA center candidate James Empey from BYU. And fourth-string QB Ben DiNucci, as first noted by ESPN, is also out.
Below, our 53-man projections entering the week … and our tracker to keep Cowboys Nation plugged in on the moves …
The Dallas Cowboys and the rest of the NFL must cut from 80 to 53 by Tuesday afternoon, but certainly in Dallas’ case, there will be some transaction trickery before and after that deadline. A major issue here: The retention of 2022 eligibility for players who are injured now. They’ve got to be kept on the initial roster before then being transferred to IR.
That’s why Dallas’ “final” (but not really) roster might not include a kicker. Might include too many wideouts. And might really get shaken up after Week 1, when a trade or a signing could mean a vet newcomer.
For now, our best guesses …
QUARTERBACKS (2): Dak Prescott, Will Grier – Did Grier do enough to beat out Cooper Rush? Here’s our argument: His mobility at least gives defenses something extra to worry about – though of course, if Dak ever goes down, it’ll be the Cowboys doing the worrying.
RUNNING BACKS (3): Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, Malik Davis – Here’s the first pinch. Davis or Rico Dowdle? And if they keep both, how do they justify what they might do with too many receivers and too many DBs?
A running theme here: The scouting department likes Davis, a tough guy who plays special teams. The coaching staff likes Dowdle as a legit runner. Big debate right here inside The Star.
WIDE RECEIVERS (7): CeeDee Lamb, Jalen Tolbert, Noah Brown, Simi Fehoko, KaVontae Turpin, Michael Gallup, James Washington – OK, here’s the first “transaction trickery”: Gallup might come back in September, Washington in November. Want ’em eligible then? They must start on the 53. In Gallup’s case, he’ll stay there; in Washington’s, he’ll move to IR. And Dennis Houston? Cut him and give him a call-back.
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We like ideas like cheap trades for someone like the Jets’ Denzel Mims. But we can understand why Dallas thinks it has enough “bodies,” at least. We know the Cowboys don’t yet know exactly what to do here. Tough call.
TIGHT ENDS (3): Dalton Schultz, Jake Ferguson, Peyton Hendershot – Sometimes, these things just work out. Hendershot fought his way onto the team in Friday’s preseason-closing win over Seattle, while Sean McKeon (knee) is hurt. So the rookie Hendershot gets his shot, and McKeon goes into mothballs.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9): Tyler Smith, Connor McGovern, Tyler Biadasz, Zack Martin, Terence Steele, Josh Ball, Matt Farniok, Matt Waletzko, Tyron Smith – For the first time ever, we list Tyron last. Does Dallas really think he can come back from his hamstring/knee surgery? Err there and a roster spot has been wasted. Oh, and does Dallas really want to put Ball and Waletzko in a real game?
A post-Week 1 move seems logical. Here: Pick a name.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (10): DeMarcus Lawrence, Neville Gallimore, Osa Odighizuwa, Quinton Bohanna, Dorance Armstrong, Chauncey Golston, Sam Williams, Dante Fowler Jr., John Ridgeway, Trysten Hill – This becomes about vet starter Carlos Watkins vs. rookie Ridgeway. … and about whether Dallas gets trade offers for Hill.
LINEBACKERS (5): Micah Parsons, Leighton Vander Esch, Anthony Barr, Jabril Cox, Luke Gifford – This has a chance to be a special group.
DEFENSIVE BACKS (12): Trevon Diggs, Jayron Kearse, Malik Hooker, Anthony Brown, Jourdan Lewis, Donovan Wilson, DaRon Bland, Kelvin Joseph, Nahshon Wright, Marquese Bell, Israel Mukuamu – Lewis’ hamstring, Mukuamu’s groin and Joseph’s concussion might mean more trickery here. Oh, and we’re keeping CJ Goodwin, the special-teams ace.
SPECIAL TEAMS (2): Bryan Anger (punter), Jake McQuaide (long-snapper) – Where’s kicker Brett Maher? As we suggested earlier this week: Cut him, knowing there is a minor risk of losing him. Wait for the waivers to clear. Perform some “transaction trickery.” And bring him back.
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