This means that 1,036 players will be released league-wide in the next 7 days (counting those who have already been cut loose), which opens up endless possibilities of thinking whether the 54th or 55th best players in Houston, San Francisco, or Pittsburgh could be better than the 53rd man in your own camp.
We have no way of knowing how many players who the Cowboys have not even met will be on the Week 1 roster against the 49ers, but you can assume that there will be at least a few. It seems to happen every year.
Anyway, before we can start projecting our 53 man rosters based on what we have seen over the last 5 weeks of training camp and preseason games, we need to take a look at how this roster has been set up in the past. Of course, you will need to note that in 2013, the roster was built for the 4-3, and all the years prior to that were in the 3-4. Therefore, note the difference in quantity between the defensive linemen and the linebackers from 2012 to 2013. And, of course, expect comparable quantities as we look to the 2014 final cuts. They must get to 75 today and to 53 by Saturday at 3pm central.
Below is the list:
2007: 26 Offense/24 Defense/3 Specialist
2008: 25 Offense/25 Defense/3 Specialist
2009: 25 Offense/24 Defense/4 Specialist
2010: 25 Offense/25 Defense/3 Specialist
2011: 26 Offense/23 Defense/4 Specialist
2012: 25 Offense/25 Defense/3 Specialist
2013: 24 Offense/26 Defense/3 Specialist
Now you can grab the latest 75 man roster found here at the Cowboys website and begin your own chop down, being mindful of position groupings.
We will do the same after Thursday Night's game on the blog here for Friday.
As of right now, here is how I see the 53:
QB - (2): This is not that difficult. I have seen almost nothing that says I should keep anything more than Tony Romo and Brandon Weeden. I would very much like to find my developmental QB, and Dustin Vaughan is going to be on my practice squad, but only if I get him through waivers where I do not anticipate a problem. Caleb Hanie is cut.
RB - (5): I figure this is where we will put a huge number on the board by keeping 5 RBs. I am not saying this position is stacked, but with DeMarco Murray a given, then we have to look at Lance Dunbar being loved by the organization as they love his potential to really be a weapon. Beyond that Joseph Randle can really help special teams, Ryan Williams has been so flashy that I don't think they want to lose his upside, and Tyler Clutts allows some personnel versatility to run 21 and 22 personnel, but also he has been on every special teams unit in the preseason. So, we are keeping 5.
TE - (3): Again, this was determined long ago, with the only possibility of change was if James Hanna was outplayed by somebody in camp. But, I didn't see that at all and his special teams ability puts him on the roster for his 3rd year, with the givens of Jason Witten and Gavin Escobar already in the bag. If they could find a 4th who was a great blocker and ST guy, they might consider it, but with extra RBs, they need to go a bit thin here.
WR - (5): I really like some of the fringe WRs here, and I assume that it will be difficult to discard Chris Boyd and Jamar Newsome. LaRon Byrd has also been a nice player in camp at times. However, all 3 are going to be cut loose and perhaps be brought back on the PS. However, again, the 5 WR jobs were pretty much known since draft day: Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Dwayne Harris, and Devin Street. I would not be shocked to hear they decided on a 6th, but I have 5 for now.
OL - (9): Here is a place where I think they absolutely want to find something in the NFL cut piles next week. I think they need 9 for the season, but I can't find 9 I like. So here are the best 9: Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin, Doug Free, Ron Leary, Mackenzy Bernadeau, followed by the 3 that should not feel safe, but by default the pricey Jermey Parnell, John Wetzel, and Uche Nwaneri. As you can see, there is a lot of talent, but one injury or two could really make this position thin. Especially if a tackle goes down.
Ok, now it is time to be honest. That was easy. What you are about to witness is going to be very, very difficult. I will be quite honest and say that although I have 26 defensive players on my roster, I could cut about 10 of them and not look back once. They are here because there is nobody better in camp.
DL - (9): Here are the givens: George Selvie, Tyrone Crawford, Henry Melton, Jeremy Mincey, and DeMarcus Lawrence. Yes, Lawrence has to be on the 53 before they move him to the in-season IR designated to return after 6 weeks or more. After that, Terrell McClain and Nick Hayden are tied together, because they want McClain to make Hayden expendable, but McClain has hardly been in a practice. So, for now, I think they both stay. That means, I can keep Davon Coleman and Kenneth Boatright (STs), but I have to risk losing Ken Bishop and Zach Minter through cuts and try to rescue them after I move Lawrence to the IR.
LB - (7): Justin Durant, Bruce Carter, Kyle Wilber, Anthony Hitchens, and Rolando McClain are the easiest 5 - although I wish the competition made it more difficult to select. And then, after that, I am making 2 purely special teams calls here and grabbing Cam Lawrence and Orie Lemon as guys I can depend on to cover kicks pretty well. Dallas is thin at Linebacker right now.
DB - (10): This one is complicated for sure. Givens: Brandon Carr, Morris Claiborne, Barry Church, JJ Wilcox. Orlando Scandrick won't count on cuts as he is suspended. Now, we need 3 more corners for September, and I am grabbing Sterling Moore, Tyler Patmon, and BW Webb. And, since special teams need to be special, Jeff Heath is back, and Ahmad Dixon is on the squad, with Jakar Hamilton as my 10th and on very shaky ground.
ST - (3): Dan Bailey, Chris Jones, LP Ladouceur.
Now, like I said, these cuts are not in stone and I suppose Thursday could change my mind on some and others might get injured. But, for now, if I am making the cuts, these are the 53 I end up with.
But, also, if I am the GM, I am using the 1,036 cuts league-wide to repopulate my roster with plenty of fresh blood to make these decisions more difficult.