Don't look now, but the Dallas Cowboys are fixing to have to make some really tough decisions regarding their current stable of cornerbacks. Byron Jones, Chidobe Awuzie, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis are all entering contract years in either 2019 or 2020. What the future holds for them with the Cowboys organization is anybody's guess as of right now.
Byron Jones has without a doubt emerged as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL and should cash in at the end of the 2019 season when his rookie contract with the Cowboys expires. There has already been quite a bit of discussion regarding whether or not Dallas should retain him long-term or not, but there's no doubt in my mind he's deserving.
Unfortunately, deserving or not, Byron Jones may be at the bottom of the pecking order when contract extensions start getting handed out. The Dallas Cowboys still have to extend Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Jaylon Smith. Jones is certainly in the mix, but Dallas has yet to let it be known how big of a priority he is to re-sign.
Like I mentioned earlier though, Byron Jones is just one of the Cowboys CBs entering the final year of their rookie contracts this year or the next. Dallas certainly has some tough decisions regarding the future of the CB position. There's no easy way to determine who stays and who goes, but deciding what to do with Jones is the best place to start.
Here's a look at the current cornerbacks on the Dallas Cowboys roster, including the current drafted an undrafted additions, plus those on the practice squad:
|C. J. Godwin||29||6'3"||190||29||4|
There's really no easy way to go about deciding the fate of the cornerbacks with expiring contracts these next couple years. A lot of things have to go into making these kind of decisions and it's not all about the players themselves. The coaching staff has a lot to do with it and there's a lot of uncertainty there as well.
Head Coach Jason Garrett is also entering the final year of his contract with no indication he will receive an extension anytime soon. That puts all of his coaching staff in jeopardy of losing their jobs if he's not retained, including Kris Richard. It may be unwise to invest in players that may not fit in a new coaching staff's scheme.
As you can see, the Dallas Cowboys may be in a holding pattern in regards to the future of the cornerback position. A lot of things have to be ironed out and it's doubtful any decisions are made until after the completion of the 2019 season. The picture should be much clearer by then, at least that's the hope anyways.
Can Cowboys DT Daniel Ross Fight His Way Onto 2019 Roster?
For two seasons, Daniel Ross has been a solid reserve at defensive tackle for the Dallas Cowboys. They thought enough of Ross to re-sign him this offseason, but other additions at DT may have stolen Ross' roster spot. Is there anything Daniel can do to fight his way back on the 53?
In late 2017, Dallas signed Ross off the Chiefs' practice squad due to injuries at defensive tackle. He was active in three games and recorded one sack as a backup. Daniel returned last year and was active in 13 games, again recording a single sack in his limited playing time.
With only two accrued seasons in the NFL, Ross was an Exclusive Rights Free Agent this past offseason. Daniel would be unable to negotiate with other teams unless Dallas waived his rights, but the Cowboys brought Ross back on a one-year deal before free agency even opened.
Unfortunately for Ross, though, the Cowboys also signed veteran Christian Covington to play DT for them this year. They then spent their 2nd-round pick on Trysten Hill.
With those players joining Tyrone Crawford, Maliek Collins, and Antwaun Woods in the interior defensive line, it's hard to see a spot for Daniel Ross going forward.
The Cowboys are unlikely to keep more than five defensive tackles. To make the team, Daniel Ross is probably going to have to beat Christian Covington for that last spot on the depth chart.
Covington feels like a sure thing, though. Dallas signed him to a one-year, $2.5 million deal to convert to DT after playing four years as a 3-4 end in Houston. They must feel pretty good about his potential with that kind of salary.
One other avenue for Ross to make the team would be Dallas either trading or releasing Tyrone Crawford, which seems unlikely but isn't unrealistic. Crawford's versatility isn't as valuable now that Robert Quinn and Kerry Hyder have joined the DE ranks.
The Cowboys could still decide they want to save $7 million in cap space by moving on from Crawford. If so, having a solid guy like Ross to fill out the DT position is added motivation.
Even if Daniel can't make it onto the 53-man roster he's still eligible for the practice squad. But even that won't be a sure thing; undrafted free agents Daniel Wise and Ricky Walker are younger and should be competitive.
Since going undrafted in 2017, Daniel Ross has had stops with four different NFL clubs. Will he be able to stick around in Dallas, or will he be looking for a fifth team after final cuts? He has the talent to play in the league, but the Cowboys just may not have an opening for him in 2019.
Predicting Dallas Cowboys Roster Locks, Pre-Training Camp Edition
With the Dallas Cowboys training camp just around the corner, I thought it would be a good idea to draw attention to their current roster. From top to bottom, the Cowboys have one of the deepest rosters at their disposable heading into the 2019 season. But in order to get under the league mandated 53-man roster Dallas will have to release quite a few talented players.
With that in mind, I thought I'd take a shot at predicting which Dallas Cowboys players should be considered roster locks right now. I tried to narrow down to the players who I am the most confident in right now, not the ones who can eventually secure a roster spot at some point in training camp or preseason.
I should probably warn you right now… I tried to avoid any "pet cats", roster bubble guys, or players I would personally pound the table for. The players listed below are the ones I'm nearly 100% sure make the Dallas Cowboys final 2019 53-man roster.
Dallas Cowboys 35 Roster Locks
|RB||Ezekiel Elliott||Tony Pollard|
|WR||Amari Cooper||Michael Gallup||Randall Cobb|
|OL||Tyron Smith||Connor Williams||Travis Frederick||Zack Martin||La'el Collins||Cameron Fleming||Connor McGovern|
|DE||DeMarcus Lawrence||Robert Quinn||Dorrance Armstrong||Tyrone Crawford|
|DT||Antwaun Woods||Maliek Collins||Tryston Hill|
|LB||Sean Lee||Jaylon Smith||Leighton Vander Esch||Joe Thomas|
|CB||Byron Jones||Chidobe Awuzie||Anthony Brown||Jourdan Lewis|
|S||Xavier Woods||Jeff Heath||George Iloka||Donovan Wilson|
|ST||Chris Jones||L.P. Ladouceur|
35 out of 53 may seem like a low number of Dallas Cowboys players who I believe have already locked up a roster spot, but with the depth this team has it's really not. There's no way of really knowing how many players the Cowboys will keep at each position, which makes predicting these roster locks that much more difficult. Regardless though, the 35 players listed above are the ones I am the most confident about.
Biggest Surprise Roster Locks
If you look over the 35 players who I believe have locked up a roster spot already, there's not a whole lot of surprises. I think the only player I would consider a surprise would be Safety Donovan Wilson. As a rookie, and a sixth-round pick at that, Wilson seems like a longshot to even make the final 53-man roster, but not if you look at the current the depth at the position. I believe all he has to do is beat out Kavon Frazier, which shouldn't be that difficult.
The only other player that could possibly be a surprise is Cornerback Jourdan Lewis. The only reason I mention him is because the Cowboys "supposedly" put him on the trade block last year. I think they've learned though he is someone who needs more playing time, which is why I have him listed above.
Biggest Surprise Roster Snubs
You may have noticed a few names who I snubbed as roster locks for the Dallas Cowboys, but which ones were the biggest surprises?
The first player you may have noticed missing was WR/RB Tavon Austin. He's a dynamic player when he can get the ball in space, especially in the return game, but in no way do I view him as a roster lock this year. Tony Pollard, the Cowboys third-round pick this year, is a similar player that could make Austin expendable.
The next player you may have noticed missing is C/OG Joe Looney. He filled in nicely for Travis Frederick last year and quite possibly saved the Cowboys 2018 season. His versatility to play along the OL could be important, but rookie C/OG Connor McGovern could fill that role as well. Despite that though, Looney still has a good chance to make the final 53-man roster.
The last player I think who might be a surprise is Defensive End Taco Charlton. He is entering the ever important Year 3 with the Dallas Cowboys, but despite being a former first-round pick he's no sure bet that to make the roster. The Cowboys have some talented depth at DE who could push Charlton off the roster.
Who would be your Dallas Cowboys roster locks ahead of training camp?
Should Cowboys Consider Bringing Back Alex Tanney as Backup QB?
If the Dallas Cowboys aren't happy about their quarterback depth by the end of preseason, they should be looking to add someone from other teams' roster cuts. One player that could become available is a former Cowboy, Alex Tanney, and he may be one of the best options they'll have.
Tanney is currently with the New York Giants and served as Eli Manning's backup last year. He's floated around the NFL since going undrafted in 2012, being part of eight different teams.
Alex's tenure in Dallas came in 2013 when the Cowboys signed him just before training camp. Tanney flashed his potential during the preseason but it wasn't enough to get him on the 53-man roster. Dallas kept just two QBs that year, Tony Romo and Kyle Orton, and signed Tanney to their practice squad.
In November of that season, the Cleveland Browns poached Alex and signed him to their roster. Then came a series of stops with other teams' practice squad before finally landing with the Tennessee Titans, where he got his first and only playing time in a regular season game.
In 2015, Tanney finished the Titans meaningless regular-season finale. He completed 10-of-14 passes for 99 yards and one touchdown.
After spending last year with the Giants as the backup QB but never having to play, Tanney re-signed with New York for a two year deal this past March. But that was before the Giants spent their first-round pick on QB Daniel Jones
New York has kept three quarterbacks on the roster the last two years, but only kept two in 2016. With a clear top-two of Manning and Jones, and Daniel obviously their QB of the future, could they decide to let their other passers go at final cuts?
By only giving Tanney $75,000 in guaranteed money on his new contract, the Giants certainly left themselves the option of cutting him.
Alex Tanney now has seven years of NFL experience with multiple teams. He'll have just spent a full year and a second offseason with one of the Cowboys' division rivals, perhaps offering some insights into Pat Shurmur's system.
Ideally, the Cowboys will be content at quarterback if Cooper Rush or Mike White can earn their confidence over the next two months. But after reported struggles from both during mini-camps and OTAs, there is reason for concern.
This will all be moot, of course, if the Giants decide to keep Alex as a their third quarterback. But there is reason to think he could hit the open market, and if so he may be one of the few decent options that Dallas has to try and improve their QB depth.
In the end, Alex Tanney may not be a better option than Rush or White. But if the Cowboys find themselves desperate by September, he should at least be worth a second look.
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