It's been almost three months since my last 53-man roster projection, and boy, have some things changed!
At that time we were just coming out of the NFL Draft. We still thought that Randy Gregory would only be suspended for four games instead of 10 or more. We had no idea that Rolando McClain would also be facing a 10-game suspension. Maliek Collins still had two working feet and Darren McFadden hadn't broken his elbow.
Back then we didn't have as clear an understanding of the health of players like Orlando Scandrick, Lance Dunbar, or Gavin Escobar. They've all made strong recoveries and are now looking good for the start of the regular season.
So, taking all of this new information into account, here is an updated roster projection with Training Camp set to begin tomorrow!
QB: Tony Romo, Kellen Moore,
Dak Prescott (3)
I am very intrigued by a recent statement from Cowboys insider Bryan Broaddus, a former scout who says that Jameil Showers has been outplaying Kellen Moore so far in the offseason. That alone isn't enough to make me put Showers ahead of Moore as the backup, but it now puts Showers on the radar far more than he was previously.
One thing that seems clear is that Moore, Showers, or some other player will be Tony's immediate backup over Prescott. Reports on the fourth-round rookie have been that he's as raw and in need of development as his draft scouting reports said. There seems little chance that Dallas will trust him as the backup quarterback.
RB: Ezekiel Elliott, Alfred Morris, Lance Dunbar, Darius Jackson (4)
CHANGES: Removed Darren McFadden, Added Dunbar & Jackson
McFadden really hurt himself, figuratively and literally, with that broken elbow. Missing training camp and preseason will allow Dallas to get comfortable with not having McFadden in the mix.
Even if they don't cut or trade him, Dallas will likely have the option to keep McFadden on the Physically Unable to Perform list during the first part of the regular season. They can hold him until the middle of the year and then release him if a need hasn't risen. After that many weeks, though, there's no telling what other RB may be on the shelf.
I am keeping the sixth-round rookie, Darius Jackson, on the roster with the assumption that his size and athleticism will make him useful on special teams. Hopefully, new assistant coach Tashard Choice can show Jackson how to make an impact in the kicking game.
WR: Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams,
Cole Beasley, Brice Butler,
Lucky Whitehead (5)
The only way that this group will change is if one of the young WR prospects, such as Ed Eagan or Andy Jones, blows past Whitehead as a receiving option. If that occurs, Dallas will likely have to forego that fourth running back so that they can hang on to Whitehead as their primary return man.
I think Whitehead is the one who is going to find an offensive role. He was already starting to late last year, getting some of the looks that were going to Lance Dunbar early on. In fact, Whitehead's development could allow Dallas to cut Dunbar so that they can hang on to McFadden or use a roster spot somewhere else.
TE: Jason Witten, Gavin Escobar, James Hanna, Geoff Swaim (4)
CHANGES: Removed Rico Gathers, Added Escobar
Back in May I didn't put Escobar on the roster with the assumption that he would start the year on PUP. Now the question is if he makes the team at all, and it isn't as obvious as you might think.
Escobar's future in Dallas beyond 2016 seems doubtful. They've already given Hanna a new three-year deal that's paying him number-two money. Swaim and Gathers are both in the middle of rookie contracts. If Dallas doesn't see re-signing Escobar next offseason then they may opt to just release him now and hang on to younger players.
Dumping Escobar wouldn't necessarily be to make room for Gathers, though. Dallas could also use that roster spot to keep a fullback, such as Rod Smith. With this projection, though, I am assuming that they will utilize a lot of single-back formations and then have tight ends like Hanna and Swaim handle any backfield blocking as needed.
T: Tyron Smith, Doug Free,
Cam Bradfield (3)
CHANGES: Removed Charles Brown, Added Cam Bradfield
Ideally, Chaz Green will blossom in his first real camp and preseason and claim the swing tackle job. However, last year they were trying him at guard because he was struggling too much on the outside. That's not a great sign.
Dallas signed veteran Cam Bradfield to replace the recently retired Charles Brown earlier this week. His experience alone makes him the front-runner to be the swing tackle. Dallas will have several young prospects in training camp but at this point there's no reason to assume one of them will vault Bradfield.
G: Zack Martin, La'el Collins, Ron Leary, Chaz Green (4)
The only change I expect in this group is if Leary gets used in a trade. Dallas has a clear and present danger at defensive end and Leary, who could be a starting guard for many teams, could be their best bet to find help.
I am putting Green here with the logic that, if he's not the swing tackle, he will probably get more looks at guard. Still, he will likely be inactive most weeks.
C: Travis Frederick, Joe Looney (2)
Unless a young prospect like Jake Brendel emerges during training camp, this should remain the same up through final cuts. Looney was signed to be the new Mackenzy Bernadeau; a versatile center/guard with starting experience.
~ ~ ~
Dallas Cowboys to Re-Sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur for 2018
Continuity is the key to good special teams play in the NFL. Already losing long-time Special Teams Coordinator Rich Bisaccia to the Raiders - who promptly snatched ST aces Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber in free agency - the Dallas Cowboys have announced their intentions to re-sign Long Snapper L.P. Ladouceur for the 2018 season.
Returning on a one-year deal, the fan favorite Ladouceur will be back to do what he does best in cleanly executing almost every special teams snap for Chris Jones or Dan Bailey to handle.
Long snapper L.P. Ladouceur will re-sign with the Cowboys on Monday, according to sources, on a one-year deal. He will be in his 14th season with the franchise. Only Jason Witten, Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Bill Bates and Mark Tuinei will have more years of... https://t.co/yTQbMYyrIv
While Jones has improved as the Cowboys' punter with each passing season, Kicker Dan Bailey actually enters 2018 as another question mark on this unit. With the general belief around the team being that Bailey will be just fine moving forward, the Cowboys will no longer have to worry about who handles long snaps next year either.
L.P. Ladouceur is back in the silver and blue, and in this moment, everything can be alright with the world.
Report: Raiders Sign Former Cowboys LB Kyle Wilber
A Free Agency period filled with departures continued for the Dallas Cowboys today, as the Oakland Raiders have reportedly signed the now-former Cowboys LB Kyle Wilber.
The Raiders have signed LB Kyle Wilber: https://t.co/TaC6cqjval
Wilber has been with the Cowboys since 2012, and has played in all 16 games four of the past five seasons. Most of his time has come on special teams, but he did provide solid linebacker depth for the Cowboys since joining the team.
Dallas has now lost both Wilber and Anthony Hitchens, depleting their linebacker depth even further over the last couple weeks.
The Raiders have now signed two key special teams contributors for the Cowboys in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber this offseason. Hopefully Dallas can replace these types of "replacement level" players throughout the rest of the offseason, especially during the NFL Draft.
Report: Cowboys Officially Release CB Orlando Scandrick
After requesting his release from the team just a few days ago, Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick has gotten his wish. According to ESPN's Josina Anderson, Scandrick has officially been cut by the Dallas Cowboys.
I'm told the #Cowboys have informed CB Orlando Scandrick he will be released, per source.
This move will reportedly save the Cowboys roughly $1.4M against the salary cap, as we hope they finally look to make some moves during the Free Agency period.
Scandrick's release comes after an offseason in which the Cowboys totally overhauled the back end of their defense, specifically their cornerbacks. With the emergence of young, promising players such as Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis, and the health issues of the aging Scandrick, the move makes a lot of sense.
In fact, after the Cowboys drafted Awuzie in the second round of last year's draft it was rumored the Cowboys were looking to move Scandrick for extra draft picks. Instead, one year later, they have cut him to save some cap room.
Orlando Scandrick should have a market to find a new team elsewhere, but his time in Dallas has now come to a close.
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