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.
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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.
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!?
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.
Going back to Texas! #CowboysNation
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.
Dallas Cowboys 2019 Free Agency: Week One Recap
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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If this is any indication, next week's recap may have a lot more to discuss.
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