4 Cowboys Protected From Practice Squad Poaching in Week 1

Per the unique rules set forth in 2020 due to COVID-19, the Dallas Cowboys have selected their first four players to protect on the practice squad. For Week 1 those players are FB Sewo Olonilua, DE Ron’Dell Carter, LB Francis Bernard, and CB Deante Burton.

This protection means, as of Wednesday, no other team can “poach” these players by signing them to their 53-man roster. The protection stays in effect until after Sunday night’s game against the Los Angeles Rams.

Seeing priority UDFAs like Bernard and Carter on this list are not surprising. Francis was a star of training camp and many were stunned that he didn’t make the 53-man roster. He’s also a likely candidate to be activated for Week 1 due to injuries at linebacker with Sean Lee and Luke Gifford.

Ron’Dell Carter was a priority free agent signing for Dallas following the draft, receiving more than double what most of their other undrafted rookies did in signing bonus. He’s one of the players they’re likely most concerned about losing from the practice squad via poaching.

As unsurprising as it is to see these rookies protected, the real shocker is that veteran CB Brandon Carr is not one of the names mentioned.

Todd Archer on Twitter: “The Cowboys protected the following four players on their practice squad this week under the new COVID-19 guidelines: LB Francis Bernard, CB Deante Burton, DE Ron’Dell Carter and FB Sewo Olonilua. / Twitter”

The Cowboys protected the following four players on their practice squad this week under the new COVID-19 guidelines: LB Francis Bernard, CB Deante Burton, DE Ron’Dell Carter and FB Sewo Olonilua.

The Cowboys surprisingly signed Carr, who played for Dallas from 2012-2016, to their practice squad after final cuts last weekend. The COVID-19 rule changes made it possible for a player with Brandon’s many years of NFL service to be on the PS, and it was assumed that Dallas would protect him this week and use him in the Rams game.

Dallas not protecting Carr potentially tells us a few things:

  1. The Cowboys and Brandon have an unofficial agreement on his role with the team. They don’t fear him accepting another team’s offer.
  2. Dallas simply isn’t that worried about anyone else signing the 34-year-old cornerback.
  3. Maybe they don’t intend to activate Carr for the Rams game after all.

The decision to bring Carr back to Dallas was a stunner, leading to ongoing speculation about his eventual usage. It’s been suggested that he may be transitioning to safety given the team’s needs there.

As for the four practice squad players Dallas did protect, CB Deante Burton is likely the guy nobody expected to be on the list. Chris Westry was the more talked-about corner in camp this year, plus there were other notable PS members such as WR Jon’Vea Johnson or OT Isaac Alarcon,

The Cowboys may see Burton, who has some real-game experience, as potential depth in the secondary for Week 1 given the injury concerns with Jourdan Lewis and Xavier Woods.

FB Sewo Olonilua was also protected and it’s a logical move. While the Cowboys appear intent to have TE Dalton Schultz play as the lead blocker for now, Dallas likely sees Olonilua as the next-best option. They would want to keep him in the queue if the time comes.

As with so much this year; expect the unexpected. This new facet of roster management is going to be interesting to watch as the 2020 season unfolds.

What do you think?


Written by Jess Haynie

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!


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  1. I can’t believe they chose to protect Deante Burton over Brandon Carr…. Burton hasn’t really done anything since he’s been in the NFL!! There were quite a few other players on the practice squad that I think I would have protected before Deante Burton, and Brandon Carr and Chris Westry are 2 that I would have chosen way before Burton!! And in my opinion, Brandon Carr would have been the very first player I had protected, and then Ron’dell Carter and Frances Bernard and then either Chris Westry or Sewo!! But Deante Burton wouldn’t have been one of those players!! But that’s just my opinion!!

    • Sometimes, and especially without preseason games, we only hear about the guys who make the occasional highlight play. The Steady Freddies, like perhaps Burton is, don’t create that buzz but they do earn the coaches’ trust. They may not make the big plays, but they also avoid the big mistakes.

  2. Well we haven’t actually laid eyes on this guy. Everything you heard coming from camp was simply the opinion of a beat guy, not the coaches. What on earth have you heard about Westry that makes him a good choice? His measurables are extremely enticing, but that alone hasn’t helped him earn a single ounce of praise in 2 years now. He must be lacking big time somewhere … give those measurables to somebody else and maybe we have a star in the making, but this kid hasn’t gotten attention yet .. and this choice of Burton just proves that.

  3. “Maybe they don’t intend to activate Carr for the Rams game after all.”

    Or maybe they do, which is why they didn’t spend one of their 4 protected slots on him. They’d just activate him if he got an offer.

    Personally, I think they have a private agreement with him where he wouldn’t accept a deal somewhere else unless it was one of those “blow your socks off, gotta take it” deals. And who seriously thinks some team is going to offer a deal like that to a 34 year-old DB who, though solid, is not playing at a Pro Bowl level?

    Spending one of their coveted protected slots on Carr would be more unexpected to me. Why protect an older player who obviously wants to be here and has made his money already when there are young guys far more likely to get poached and accept an offer elsewhere because they haven’t made their fortune yet?

    • When I say “activate” I meant using him as the 54th/55th man on the roster from the practice squad, not signing him to the official roster.

  4. Agree it wouldn’t have made sense to protect Carr, unless they needed him to start vs Rams. And again if we are reliant on Carr playing much, we are in trouble.

  5. Jess, as the season is about to start, I’ll be able to get my Cowboy fill from here on out via watching the games myself and tuning into the Cowboy Network. I wanted to take a moment to personally thank you for your contributions here. I’ve truly enjoyed your ability to present perspective and insight in a manner that avoids rehashing standard news items. Keep up the good work and know that I’ll still look you up over the course of the season. Yourself, Brian and John should be commended by those administering the site. Excellent work Jess and hope you are blessed for your efforts!

    • Thanks for your faithful readership and kind words, Bill. Just remember that if you’ve enjoyed my perspective and spins on various topics, they will get even better when we actually have real games to talk about. Don’t be a stranger!

  6. Not protecting Carr is not surprising at all. He didn’t go to camp with any other team, obviously he was looking for the right fit. It’s not like he needs the money. Rookies will jump for sure if offered a chance at the active roster on another team. Plus with COVID protocols there is a mandatory r day quarantine with a new team which means they wouldn’t be eligible for Sunday anyway. At least for Sunday, Carr has the possibility of continuing the streak, but only if he stays with Dallas

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