This week is without question the most volatile of the 52 weeks in the NFL personnel department. For the next seven days, players will be cut, signed, worked out, traded, snuck through to injured reserve and cut again.
This is the life and your two choices are to ignore all of the many, daily transactions or to try to keep up. You know which one I choose, of course.
Nearly 1,200 players who were on NFL rosters when this week started will not be on rosters by Saturday. This is obviously a massive number that puts very talented humans out in the wild for the pool of competitors to ask the very important question: "Is Player A who was just cut in Pittsburgh/Buffalo/Atlanta better than anything we have at the end of our roster?" They have seen these last few guys here for six weeks, but would rather have that discard from the Cardinals to come take that last spot. That is how teams try to get better at the last minute. Sometimes, you want to keep four tackles but you know you don't have four in your camp who are worthy of NFL jobs. So, now you shop.
But, it is no easy deal to juggle your cuts with the cuts of others. You must then try to claim a player at just the right time for all of this to fall into place. Meanwhile, those of us who cover your team are trying to chisel down our list to 53 from 90. Last week, I put my first list out there and now the Cowboys are 12 names lighter in the last few days to get to 75. They cut nothing but long-shots from that list, with the exception of the injury list players - Kellen Moore, James Hanna, and three of my roster favorites who all had injury issues pop up - Jeremiah McKinnon, James Morris, and Shaneil Jenkins.
So, with one more day until the final preseason game and three more days until the axe falls to 53, here is what my new sheet looks like. By the way, I would love the NFL to explain why they have the 75-man cutdown before the final preseason game. Those guys who are cut are the ones who need to play in that final game for a number of reasons. The Cowboys have already said they will not play any starters, so you need bodies to play in the game. Also, the guys being cut would love a chance to have all sorts of playing time to catch the eye of the entire league's scouts. I don't get that.
Regardless, Here is my current worksheet. The secured spots are in. 40 of them.
That leaves 13 spots from the bubble group (as well as those 6 roster exemptions from various injury situations and the odd case of Rolando McClain who I think we can safely say will never play here again - but still is technically a Dallas Cowboy) to sort through. Here are the lists:
|QB - 3||Romo, Prescott||Showers, QB3|
|RB - 4/5||Elliott, Morris, Dunbar||Jackson, K Smith, R Smith, McFadden - NFI|
|TE - 4||Witten, Escobar, Swaim|
(Hanna - Injured - PUP)
|WR - 5/6||Bryant, Williams, Beasley, Butler, Whitehead||Street, A Jones, Mayle||Brown|
|OT - 4||Smith, Free||Green, Witzmann||Mack|
|G-C - 4/5||Martin, Frederick, L Collins, Leary||Looney||Brendel,|
I put the bold type on the bubble guys I think I would keep.
So, here, QB is pretty easy. It seems obvious they want someone else to be the #2 behind Prescott. Austin Davis will be in town today and perhaps he is the guy they are looking for. Showers just can't convince them he is the guy, which may be more of a matter of they don't want two guys who have no experience.
RB is based on Darren McFadden's trade prospects. I think they want to flip him for a pick and get Darius Jackson on the roster. I expect he would get claimed if they tried to slide him through to the practice squad. They may also want Keith Smith for special teams.
TE will keep four and I think Traylor is in until Hanna heals. Gathers is a practice squad guy.
WR is set, in my opinion. I think the five are pretty clear. I suppose they could try to keep six and go short elsewhere.
Tackle seems a real candidate to go pick someone up. I bet Green makes it, but not by much.
And interior seems to be a spot where they could still try to get something for Looney or Leary.
|DT - 4/5||T Crawford, Thornton, M Collins, T McClain||Coe, Wood,|
|DE - 4/5||Mayowa, J Crawford, Tapper, Irving|
(Lawrence, Gregory - suspended)
|LB - 6||Lee, Hitchens, Wilber, Wilson|
(J Smith - PUP, R McClain - DNR)
|Durant, Gachkar, Nzeocha, Akunne||King, Hepburn|
|CB - 4/5||Carr, Claiborne, Scandrick||Olatoye, Thomas, Brown||Swanson|
|S - 4/5||Jones, Church, Heath||Wilcox, Frazier||Frey|
|ST - 3||Bailey, Jones, Ladouceur||Wile|
LB is based completely on the health of Gachkar and Nzeocha. Both have issues and I assume Durant gets one spot to provide a little veteran cover. The other needs to be a special teams ace.
I think I am keeping 10 DBs. I think they may go 9 and 7. But, I like Brown and Olatoye quite a bit. I know people are thinking Wilcox is out, but I think at his money this year he is too talented on special teams to pass up.
That said, because I am light on DL with just eight, they may very likely grab the best of the cutdown there.
|40 Roster Locks (+ 6 exemptions)||21 Bubble Players||14 Longshots |
So, 40 locks and 13 more bold names on the bubble get you to 53. But, I expect the Cowboys to fill spots #51, #52, and #53 with players on other rosters right now.
There you have it. By this time next week, the 53-man team picture will have been taken and we will be preparing for Week 1.
We almost made it, everyone.