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Cowboys 2016 Roster Projection: Pre-Camp Defense

Jess Haynie



Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys Secondary: Orlando Scandrick Is Key To Success

Click Here for Part One: Offense

Yesterday we projected the Week One offense, using up 25 of the 53 available roster spots. Use the above link to check out who made the cut.

We know that three of the remaining 28 spots will go to a kicker, punter, and long snapper. Barring injury, those players will be Dan Bailey, Chris Jones, L.P. Ladouceur. Last week I wrote an article which detailed how fortunate the Cowboys are to have such stability at these positions.

So, that means we have 25 spots for the defense.

You can use this link for my last 53-man roster projection, which will show you what changes have been made since early May.

Ready? Yes? Good? On we go!

DE: Benson Mayowa, Ryan Russell, Charles Tapper, David Irving, Jack Crawford (5)

Cowboys Blog - 2016 Contract-Year Cowboys: DT David IrvingCHANGES: None

You're tired of hearing it, but we have remind everyone that DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory are suspended to start 2016. Lawrence is only out four games, while Gregory could be out for 10 or more.

Given the $2.75 million that Dallas was willing to pay Mayowa annually in his new contract, one would expect that he will be a starter. Anyone could emerge from the other four players, though my money would be on David Irving.

There is also a strong possibility that Dallas will add some veteran help between now and Week One. Dwight Freeney is the name getting tossed around right now, but it could come from anywhere depending on other teams' roster cuts and surpluses.

DT: Tyrone Crawford, Cedric Thornton, Terrell McClain, Rodney Coe (4)

CHANGES: Removed Maliek Collins, Added Coe

The starters are obvious. Behind Crawford and Thornton, it would be nice for McClain to actually give Dallas something after two years of injuries. He's looked good in preseasons but can't seem to make it to September.

Third-round pick Maliek Collins isn't on here only because I expect him to start the year on the PUP list. He was have to make rapid progress from May foot surgery to get back for any portion of training camp or preseason. Given that he's a rookie, Dallas would probably like to ease him back into things and the PUP list offers six weeks of additional rest.

That opens the door for Rodney Coe, who went undrafted in April more for character concerns than football ability. Coe bounced around colleges due to some behavioral issues. Though they've been burned lately by taking chances on guys with red flags, Dallas will hope that Coe is ready to be a professional.

LB: Sean Lee, Anthony Hitchens, Justin Durant, Damien Wilson, Kyle Wilber, Mark Nzeocha, Andrew Gachkar (7)

Cowboys Blog - Sean Lee: Comeback Player Of The Year? 1CHANGES: Removed Rolando McClain,
Added Durant

Keeping seven linebackers on a 4-3 defense may seem like excess, but not when you consider the tumultuous situation Dallas has right now. Their one constant is Sean Lee, who may never be far from Injured Reserve. Everything else is in disarray following Rolando McClain's 10-game suspension and training camp no-show (as of the writing of this article).

Dallas brought back Justin Durant, who was with them from 2013-214, as veteran help to an otherwise young and semi-experienced group. Right now I project that Anthony Hitchens and Kyle Wilber will be the starters as the middle and strongside linebackers, but we have over a month for that to change.

CB: Orlando Scandrick, Morris Claiborne, Brandon Carr, Deji Olatoye, Anthony Brown (5)


There are several young CB prospects in Oxnard right now, but until someone makes noise in practice this group seems set. Your top three are clear, Olatoye is a promising prospect from last season, and Brown was a sixth-round steal who the team is high on.

Dallas did re-sign veteran Josh Thomas to a minimal one-year-deal. He did not appear in any games last season but they must simply have liked having one experienced guy among their young reserves. I don't expect him to stick around.

S: Byron Jones, Barry Church, Jeff Heath, Kavon Frazier (4)

Cowboys Headlines - Impact of Jeff Heath & Ron Leary RFA TendersCHANGES: Removed J.J. Wilcox

You could make a case for keeping Wilcox. In the final year of his rookie deal, Wilcox's salary is low enough that he's okay for a bench role. He would give you great experience and insurance.

Unfortunately for him, Dallas seems to already have their primary backup in Jeff Heath. They just gave Heath a four-year extension, rewarding him mainly for his special teams play but also for their comfort level with him as a reserve safety.

Like with Anthony Brown, Dallas feels they got a steal in Kavon Frazier. He had a fourth-round grade on their board according to Stephen Jones. That gives you two starters, a veteran backup, and a rookie prospect all in place; no room for Wilcox.

~ ~ ~

And that does it! I will updating the roster projection after the first preseason game on August 13th and then weekly up until final cuts.

Please comment with your likes and dislikes from my projections. Even if I think you've lost your mind, I'll be happy to reply!

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!


Player News

REPORT: Cowboys Visiting With Free Agent S Eric Berry Tuesday

Brian Martin



REPORT: Cowboys Visiting With Free Agent S Eric Berry Tuesday

According to Ian Rapoport, the Dallas Cowboys have a meeting scheduled to visit with Free Agent Safety Eric Berry Tuesday at The Star.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

Source: Former #Chiefs S and new free agent Eric Berry is visiting the #Cowboys on Tuesday. His first visit. They have a need there...

Eric Berry has spent his entire career with the Kansas City Chiefs after they drafted him fifth overall in the 2010 NFL Draft. After signing Earl Thomas last week, the Chiefs decided to part ways with their former All-Pro Safety.

Berry, 30 is an intriguing free agent for the Dallas Cowboys. When healthy, he is arguably one of the best safeties in the league. Unfortunately, injuries have kept him off the field these last few seasons causing him to only start in only three games since 2016.

This is a move many of us expected to happen after the Cowboys decided not to get into a bidding war for Earl Thomas, a player linked to Dallas for over a year now. In Berry, Cowboys Nation would be getting a similar player with the same kind of red flags. Both Thomas and Berry have to be approached with caution due to their injury history the past few years.

Depending on his asking price, Eric Berry absolutely makes sense for the Dallas Cowboys. He would be an upgrade over Jeff Heath and would pair well with the Cowboys up-and-coming three-year safety Xavier Woods.

This is still just a visit, so we should probably get our hopes up that a signing is imminent. But, I think we can all agree Eric Berry is exactly the "right kind of guy" Jason Garrett is always preaching about. He's a cancer survivor, five-time Pro Bowler, and All-Pro player. What's not to like!?

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Player News

BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys Signed DE Kerry Hyder

Brian Martin



BREAKING: Dallas Cowboys Signed DE Kerry Hyder

The Dallas Cowboys added more defensive line help today after signing former Detroit Lions Defensive End Kerry Hyder.

Kerry Hyder Jr. on Twitter

Going back to Texas! #CowboysNation

Kerry Hyder provides more depth at the defensive end position and as a chance to become the starter opposite DeMarcus Lawrence while Randy Gregory is out serving his suspension.

Hyder, 27 originally signed as an undrafted free agent out of Texas Tech with the New York Jets in 2014. He spent a year in New York before signing a future/reserve contract with the Detroit Lions in January 2015.

He had a breakout eight-sack year with the Lions in 2016, but tore his Achilles in 2017 causing him to miss the entire season. In 2018 he had just one quarterback sack after Detroit switched to a 3-4 defensive scheme.

Overall, this is a good depth signing by the Dallas Cowboys. Kerry Hyder has starting potential, but shouldn't keep the Cowboys from upgrading the position further through either another free agent signing for the draft.

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Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys 2019 Free Agency: Week One Recap

Jess Haynie



Tavon Austin

It's been just a week since NFL free agents could begin negotiating with other teams, but it feels like a lifetime for anxious Cowboys fans. Dallas' seemingly passive approach to 2019 free agency has left many disappointed. Still, there are some moves to recap.

As has become their strategy in recent years, the Cowboys have focused on filling up their depth chart and trying to avoid any glaring holes prior to next month's draft. They've re-signed several backups and added at least one likely rotation player.

It's still far too early to judge Dallas' activity. Comparing the 2019 roster to last year will depend heavily on the draft, growth from current players, and other factors. But with the "second wave" of free agency upon us, it's a good time to look at who's come, gone, and stuck around so far.

New Arrivals

  • TE Jason Witten (unretired)
  • TE Codey McElroy (Rams)
  • DT Christian Covington (Texans)

The biggest addition so far this offseason wasn't even a free agent, at least not in the purest sense of the term. Jason Witten's surprising return from retirement helped shore up one of Dallas' biggest needs, though it may not preclude them from drafting a tight end high in April.

Also at tight end, Dallas signed developmental project Codey McElroy. His experience is in baseball and basketball, having played just one year of college football. But at 6'6'" and 255 lbs., and having spent last year working with the Rams, the Cowboys must see something they're intrigued by.

Last week Dallas signed Christian Covington, who had 3.5 sacks for Houston in 2018 playing as a 3-4 defensive end. He should move to DT in the Cowboys' scheme and should be a solid addition to their rotation.

Dallas Cowboys 2019 Free Agency: Week One Recap

Former Cowboys WR Cole Beasley, now with the Buffalo Bills. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)


  • WR Cole Beasley (Bills)
  • TE Geoff Swaim (Jaguars)
  • DL David Irving (shenanigans)
  • LB Damien Wilson (Chiefs)

Beasley is heading to Buffalo on a four-year, $29 million deal. It appeared the relationship soured between Cole and Dallas over his playing time last year, and clearly the Cowboys didn't fight hard to keep him.

Damien Wilson followed Anthony Hitchens to Kansas City to help round out their linebacker corps. Once it was announced that Dallas was hanging on to Sean Lee in 2019, it was fairly certain that Wilson wouldn't be back.

Also not expected back was TE Geoff Swaim, who signed with Jacksonville. Even before Witten came back, Dallas appeared likely to stick with Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz for returning talent and then add an upgrade via free agency or the draft.

While still a free agent, nobody expects David Irving back in Dallas or even the NFL after recent activities. Irving appears focused on a Hollywood career and advocating for medical marijuana use at this point.


  • FB Jamize Olawale
  • WR Tavon Austin
  • WR Allen Hurns (team option)
  • OT Cam Fleming
  • G/C Joe Looney (team option)
  • DE DeMarcus Lawrence (franchise tag)
  • DT Daniel Ross (ERFA)
  • LB Justin March-Lillard
  • S Darian Thompson

While Dallas put the franchise tag on prized pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence, his return in 2019 is far from settled. Lawrence has previously sworn he wouldn't play under a second franchise tag this year, and last we heard the two sides are far apart on a long-term deal. Could a holdout be on the horizon?

The Cowboys doubled-down on WR depth by re-signing Tavon Austin and exercising their team option on Allen Hurns' contract. Both are able to play out of the slot, meaning we could see more of a rotation approach to replacing Cole Beasley next year.

Dallas also re-signed fullback Jamize Olawale, which was a surprise given his low usage rate last year. Perhaps the change to Kellen Moore at offensive coordinator was behind this one, hoping to take better advantage of Olawale's receiving skills going forward.

Joe Looney and Cam Fleming will also be back as valuable backups on the offensive line. Looney started 16 games last year at center and also helps at guard, while Fleming will be the swing tackle once again for his second season in Dallas.

On defense, Dallas kept Daniel Ross in their DT rotation after solid performance in 2018. Justin March-Lillard return at linebacker, particularly for his value on special teams. And Darian Thompson, a former third-round pick by the Giants, is back as an ongoing developmental player.

~ ~ ~

Today we're already seeing a flourish of free agent activity in Dallas. Reports this morning have them meeting with WR Randall Cobb and S Clayton Geathers, and we haven't even had lunch yet.

If this is any indication, next week's recap may have a lot more to discuss.

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