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.
Maliek Collins Activated From PUP, Cowboys’ Front 7 Looking Great
There are tons of reasons to be excited about the Dallas Cowboys' defense with the regular season less than a month away. The most recent one is Defensive Tackle Maliek Collins is coming off the PUP list after passing his physical and is now activated and practicing.
After suffering another foot injury in May, Collins had to undergo surgery and his return to the roster before the season began was questionable. But things are looking good now as the Cowboys expect him to be ready for week 1 versus the Carolina Panthers.
On the same day he was taken off PUP, Maliek Collins is participating in pre-practice walkthrough. Not sure what that means for his practice regimen, but that's a positive sign #cowboyswire
Collins missed quite some time, so one has to wonder how fast he will be reincorporated to the defense and whether or not he'll get back his starting role or not. The defensive tackle room seems to be loaded with various talent that should be capable of at least giving #96 a tough competition before he can reclaim his spot as if he hadn't been missing any practices.
David Irving may not be a factor on the roster until he comes back from suspension prior to week 5's match-up against the Houston Texans, but there are other young players Collins should be expecting to fight for the starting role.
Antwaun Woods, Jihad Ward, Brian Price and Datone Jones will provide this team with an interesting debate going forward. But even if not one DT emerges as a clear-cut starter above the rest, the Cowboys have serious depth at the position.
To be honest, the entire front seven is very exciting. Not only do the Cowboys count with good DTs, but just take a look at the defensive end room. Led by 2017 second-team All-Pro DeMarcus Lawrence, there is also a deep group of DEs.
Randy Gregory is coming back after a long comeback journey and should earn a lot more snaps as the season progressing. Taco Charlton has made a ton of progress and fourth-round rookie Dorance Armstrong isn't far behind. Not to mention captain Tyrone Crawford, who despite being criticized by many due to his huge contract, is a more than decent DE.
Now, let's talk about the linebackers for a moment here. Before the 2018 NFL Draft, this was seen as one of the weakest units on the team. Fast forward to mid-August and this should be one of the most exciting groups on the team.
Sean Lee will be playing alongside a Jaylon Smith that we've never seen before. Smith is doing things that he wouldn't been able to do a season ago. What he's shown in training camp and through one preseason game should have any Cowboys' fan eager to watch him play in a regular season game. The Jaylon Smith the front office envisioned when taking a risk on him in the 2016 NFL Draft has arrived.
Also in the mix is first round pick Leighton Vander Esch. We haven't been able to watch a lot of playing time from him but we'll sure do pretty soon. He's a week 1 contributor who will play behind what could be one of the best LB duos in the entire NFL.
And just like in the defensive line, the depth seems to be great. Joe Thomas and Damien Wilson have shown what they're capable of and they could be more than special team bodies when needed.
The Dallas Cowboys shouldn't be very concerned about their front seven going forward. It's loaded with talent and even if they rotate their players a lot, this seems like a group that will give any offense a big headache.
Dallas Cowboys Sign WR Darren Carrington Following Workout in Oxnard
The Dallas Cowboys have signed another one of the six players worked out on Monday in Oxnard, adding to their already deep group of wide receivers. Most recently with Utah, Pac-12 Wide Receiver Darren Carrington has signed with the team.
Carrington began his college career at Oregon, where he was on track to make it to the NFL before being dismissed from the Ducks for a DUI. This led Carrington to Utah, where he played as a graduate transfer and put up a team high 908 yards and six touchdowns on 70 receptions last season.
Cowboys signing former Utah WR Darren Carrington, per source.
At 6021 (6' 2 1/8") and 199 pounds, Carrington is yet another athletic target with long speed for the Cowboys to work into their new-look offense. He joins Ricky Jeune as the second receiver added to the team in training camp, bringing the number of WRs on the roster to 11.
Marchie Murdock, who had two catches for the Cowboys in their preseason opener, was waived (with an injury designation) prior to these roster moves.
Dallas Cowboys Workout 6 Players, Sign OL Jacob Alsadek
The Dallas Cowboys did not receive good news on first-year offensive lineman Marcus Martin, as his injury suffered in San Francisco will likely require season-ending surgery. Martin was signed this offseason as a backup guard/center, and without him the Cowboys have a need for further depth up front. Working out six players at positions of need today, the team has signed former Arizona lineman Jacob Alsadek.
Congratulations to #TeamDEC client @jacobalsadek on signing with @dallascowboys
This is Alsadek's second stop in the NFL, as he spent most of May with the Green Bay Packers before being released. Alsadek was the cut when the Packers signed former Cowboys Tackle Byron Bell.
Players Cowboys worked out today: Darren Carrington, WR Jacob Alsadek, OL Daronte Bouldin, OL Dominick Sanders, S Ryan Murphy, S Deron Washington, S
The 6'7", 312 pound guard went undrafted in this year's AT&T Stadium hosted draft. He was set to play in the Alliance of American Football League, with an inaugural season scheduled for February.
Now, he's a member of America's Team with a real chance to compete for a backup spot on the best offensive line in the league.
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