While the Dallas Cowboys retained most of their talent from the 2017 roster, not all those players are guaranteed to make this year's team. Today, we're going to look at five returning guys who might not make it past final cuts.
This premise comes from a comment made by Executive Vice President Stephen Jones. According to an article from the Star-Telegram, Jones said that the talent level in 2018 was higher and that about five players who could have made last year's team wouldn't get on the 53-man roster this season.
It's not hard to see why. While the Cowboys had a few high-profile departures with Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, Anthony Hitchens, and Orlando Scandrick, they also added several veteran free agents and whole new draft class. There is also the development of players from last year's practice squad, such as Receiver Lance Lenoir or Tight End Rico Gathers.
I thought I would build on Stephen's comment today and actually look at five players from 2017 who will have a hard time making this year's squad.
This first one won't be much of a surprise.
Chaz Green, OT
Throughout history, only General Sherman caused more damage in Atlanta than Offensive Tackle Chaz Green. Last year, playing relief duty for an injured Tyron Smith, Green gave up a bevy of sacks to Adrian Clayborn in a game that felt like the end of the 2017 season.
It was the lowlight of an otherwise unimpressive three years for the former third-round pick. Chaz couldn't even establish himself as a quality reserve, let alone a potential starter like you'd expect from a guy taken so early in a draft.
That's why Dallas went out and signed veteran tackle Cameron Fleming this offseason. Fleming has started many games during his time in New England, some even in the postseason. He was brought in specifically to be what Chaz Green hasn't been able to provide; a reliable swing tackle.
Dallas hasn't cut Chaz yet. He should be here through final cuts, likely playing guard along with tackle as the team tries to squeeze some last use out of him.
But with Fleming now here and other veterans inside such as Joe Looney and Marcus Martin, Green will have a much harder time making the team. Dallas clearly lost faith in him by signing Fleming, and at this point he's little more than insurance against a preseason injury.
Blake Jarwin, TE
Even with Jason Witten and James Hanna leaving, new additions at the tight end position and a shifting offensive philosophy could make it harder to make this year's team than in 2017. If so, second-year prospect Blake Jarwin may be the guy left without a chair.
Dallas liked Jarwin, an undrafted rookie, enough last year that they signed him to the roster late in the season to avoid him being signed away by the Philadelphia Eagles. He returns as one of several intriguing players to form the 2018 depth chart.
The issue for Jarwin could be that Dallas may not need to keep four tight ends as they have in the past. If so, veteran Geoff Swaim, fourth-round rookie Dalton Schultz, and the Rico Gathers project all could claim roster spots ahead of Blake.
Dallas' reported move to a more spread offense lessens the need for multiple tight ends. What's more, players like Running Back Rod Smith, Fullback Jamize Olawale and Wide Receiver Noah Brown have the size and ability to do some blocking and fill both the offensive and special teams roles you might ask from your tight ends.
All of this makes life harder for a guy like Jarwin. He could still excel and earn his way onto the roster, either forcing the team to keep four guys or even beating Gathers for a roster spot. But it's arguably tougher this year than it was in 2017.
Charles Tapper, DE
Only appearing in two games so far during his two NFL seasons, Charles Tapper has been held back by injuries since being a fourth-round pick. He's healthy now, but increased depth at defensive end could be his ultimate undoing in 2018.
Tapper would have made the roster as a rookie if he'd been healthy. He made last year's team but went out in Week 2.
Now he's up against a far deeper group. DeMarcus Lawrence and Taco Charlton return, Randy Gregory has been reinstated, and new arrivals Kony Ealy and Dorance Armstrong will be in the mix. You also have defensive tackles who can play DE such as Tryone Crawford and Datone Jones.
Thankfully for Charles, it doesn't appear that Ealy is off to a great start. Dallas took a flier on the veteran and hoped returning him to the 4-3 would be a positive, but Kony hasn't impressed so far in camp.
But even still, the numbers could work against Tapper. There are a lot of options to fill out the defensive line and the cache of being a fourth-round pick has worn off after so much missed time. Charles has to stay healthy this month, while also out-performing his competition, to remain a Dallas Cowboy.
Richard Ash, DT
Staying with the defensive line, Richard Ash became a regular rotation piece last year after Dallas signed him off their practice squad before Week 7. But with some guys returning from injury and other additions, Ash may not get his roster spot back.
Dallas acquired Jihad Ward, a second-round pick in 2015, via trade during April's draft. They also welcome back Brian Price, who had Ash's role in the first part of the year before he got injured.
Throw in Tyrone Crawford, Maliek Collins, Datone Jones, and hopefully David Irving and you can see where the numbers aren't great for Ash.
There are still question marks, though. Nothing says Ash can't beat Price this year with the experience he got in 2017. There's also the health of Collins, who's currently on PUP, and the personal struggles for Irving that currently have him out of camp.
Richard Ash got on the last year's team thanks to injuries and they can certainly happen again. But he is one of many guys on that precarious roster bubble.
Terrance Williams, WR
You'd think that the overhaul of the WR position this year would make a veteran like Terrance more valuable. But Dallas has added so many fresh faces, plus have some interesting younger options, and might be able to cut Williams loose this year.
The Cowboys signed Allen Hurns to be a new starter, plus veteran Deonte Thompson for depth. They also drafted Michael Gallup in the third round last April. Along with the returning Cole Beasley, prospects Noah Brown and Lance Lenoir should compete for roster spots.
That's six guys already, and I haven't even mentioned Tavon Austin. Though listed at RB now, Austin will likely see a lot of time looks at receiver.
Terrance's system familiarity and run blocking will help him stick around. But he's proven unable to be a difference-maker at WR and got in some personal trouble this offseason. Even with his bad contract, Dallas may be ready to part ways.
The Cowboys can eat the dead money on the salary cap. They also have other talent at WR, arguably deeper than they've been in a few years. It creates the possibility of Terrance Williams being released, which we didn't have last year.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for Cowboys Against Redskins
Well, here we are again. The Dallas Cowboys lose another close game, but this time it might hurt a little bit more since it was to the division rival the Washington Redskins. This was definitely a game that could've gone either way since neither team played well, but in the end things just happened to go the Redskins way this time.
One or two things going just a little differently for the Cowboys likely would've been enough to secure the victory Sunday afternoon and I'm not even talking about Brett Maher's missed field goal. For instance, what if Quarterback Dak Prescott would've taken the safety instead of fumbling and letting the Redskins defense score a TD. That mistake it definitely hurt!
I could sit here and play the "what if" game with you all day, but we have nearly two weeks to do just that since the Cowboys are now on their bye week. Today, I want to share with you The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly from the first of two meetings between these two teams. Enjoy!
In yet another sloppy performance on the road, there was very little good to take away from the first meeting of the 2018 season between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins. I think the one thing I will remember the most, in a positive way, from this matchup is Wide Receiver Michael Gallup's long touchdown pass from Quarterback Dak Prescott.
Michael Gallup continues to make plays when given the opportunity. In another offense with a better play caller and maybe even a better QB, Gallup would likely be in the running for Offensive Rookie of the Year, but has failed to make much of an impact with the Cowboys so far. Hopefully that will change after the bye week though.
If I'm the Cowboys coaching staff, I'm going to find ways to get Michael Gallup more involved in the passing game coming out off the bye week. Other than Cole Beasley, he is the only one who is having much of an impact and definitely needs to see more targets. I would make that a top priority moving forward.
There is so much that I could put in this section, but I think the worst thing that happened Sunday afternoon when the Dallas Cowboys lost to the Redskins was the fact that we will have nearly 2 weeks of having to listen and talk about it. For me, that is the bad!
Yes, you read that right. Now that the Cowboys are heading into their bye week, we have two entire weeks to dissect and analyze everything that has gone right or wrong this year, especially what happened against the Redskins since it's the freshest in our minds.
This was definitely a tough loss, and one that could come back and hurt the Cowboys when it comes to playoff seeding at the end of the season. Too many mental mistakes and penalties definitely assisted in the letdown, but in the end they just weren't good enough to win on the road. That's absolutely something that needs to change since they haven't won a road game all season.
I'm going to have to go with both the offense and defense for the Dallas Cowboys as the ugly against the Redskins Sunday afternoon. Neither unit really played all that well, even though they both probably played well enough to win the game if just a few things would've gone just a little bit differently.
On the offensive side of the ball the Cowboys couldn't get anything going for nearly the entire game. The Redskins did an excellent job of bottling up Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott couldn't get anything going in the passing game until the fourth quarter. They did have a few big plays called back due to holding penalties, but overall it was a pretty sloppy performance.
Defensively things weren't much better. The Cowboys have been pretty good at stopping the run this season, but for some reason couldn't find an answer of how to stop Adrian Peterson. The defense probably played better than the Cowboys offense, stopping the Redskins in the red zone on several occasions and only giving up one TD, but in the end it just wasn't enough.
What is your good, bad, and ugly for the Dallas Cowboys against the Redskins?
WAS 20, DAL 17: Cowboys Make 1 Too Many Mistakes
Late in the fourth quarter the Cowboys faced a critical third down, trailing by just 3 points. As they did all night long, the Washington Redskins brought pressure, but quarterback Dak Prescott stood in the pocket this time and delivered a strike to Cole Beasley for a huge first down.
Cowboys fans rejoiced thinking the team might be on their way to a game winning drive. Then, we all noticed the yellow flag on the ground.
Holding, offense number 52.
The very next play Dak Prescott took what was one of the worst sack fumbles you'll ever see in his own end zone, and the Redskins extended their lead to 10 points. As Prescott tends to do, the Cowboys battled back late and got themselves in a position to send the game to overtime if Brett Maher could nail a 47 yard field goal.
Snap infraction. Rather than Maher attempting a more make-able 47 yard field goal, he was backed up to 52 yards, where he would miss the game-tying field goal. All of this resulted in an absolutely heartbreaking loss for the now 3-4 Dallas Cowboys, 20-17.
For a Cowboys team that had a chance to take over first place in the NFC East with a win, today's performance is extremely disheartening.
- DeMarcus Lawrence hasn't been getting the pass rush we hoped to see, but he continued to be an absolute menace against the run today. He ended the game with 7 tackles, 3 of them for loss.
- Dak Prescott's inconsistencies as a quarterback, the inability of any non-Cole Beasley wide out to beat man coverage, and the regression of the offensive line continued to handcuff the offense today. Their play simply wasn't good enough for most of the game.
- Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie put together another impressive game, and this defensive back group (mostly the cornerbacks) seems to improve week to week.
- Sean Lee looked healthy today, and made a key third down stop in the fourth quarter, knocking Alex Smith out of bounds and giving the offense a final chance to win or tie.
- Ezekiel Elliott and this run game failed the Cowboys today. Elliott had just 34 yards rushing on 15 attempts and the offensive line was dominated all night.
- The Cowboys have their bye this week before hosting the 3-4 Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football.
Cowboys Interest in Raiders WR Amari Cooper Increases Ahead of Trade Deadline
This week, Stephen Jones discussed the difficulties of making a trade, saying "it just seems like in the NFL trades are hard to make, to make it all come together for two teams".
The two teams that could be lining up to change that are of course Jones' Cowboys as well as John Gruden's Oakland Raiders. Yet another Raiders player has been in the headlines as a trade target, 24-year old Wide Receiver Amari Cooper.
WR-needy Cowboys doing their due diligence on Raiders' WR Amari Cooper: https://t.co/pE2wmrzCXu
Playing at the Washington Redskins on Sunday, the Cowboys will have yet another reshuffled lineup at wide receiver, playing without Tavon Austin. Their biggest offseason addition to this unit was Allen Hurns, and he's been underwhelming with just eight catches.
Thus the Cowboys are reportedly doing their "due diligence" on Cooper, sensing the need for a mid-season acquisition at WR for the right price. The Cowboys ability to potentially find that price in a deal advantageous to them, given how the Raiders handled the departure of Khalil Mack in a trade to this Chicago Bears, is what makes this story relevant.
A lot has been said about Cooper since his name emerged as the latest player potentially out of the Bay Area. Whether you believe he's still an impact receiver with the potential to regain his Pro Bowl form of 2015 and 2016 or one that "doesn't love football," as some have been inclined to say, the former fourth overall pick represents an investment into the WR position that the Cowboys have not made in some time.
In those Pro Bowl seasons, Cooper averaged over 77 catches a season while putting up over 1,000 yards in both. The Raiders have used this to justify their reported asking price of a first-round pick for Cooper, something the Cowboys are not alone in their reluctance to give.
With Cooper, the Raiders are holding onto their last bit of relevancy. A reeling 1-5 football team that needs to maximize their return on trading Cooper, the Colts and Redskins are also following in the Cowboys footsteps by preparing as much as they can on the player.
Cooper has caught 22 passes for 280 yards and a touchdown through six games this season.
For as desperate as the Raiders are to jump-start their organization, the Cowboys should be just as desperate to add a threat like Cooper to their passing attack. Unlike the Raiders, they're in the hunt for a division title, something much harder to put a price on when it comes to the Jones' finalizing any deal for Cooper in the coming days.
The NFL trade deadline is Tuesday, October 30th, at 3 PM Central Time. The Cowboys will be two days into their bye week, not in action again after Sunday until November 5th.
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