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Cowboys 53-Man Roster: Top 5 Unexpected Moves Made

Jerry Jones: Carrying 3 QBs "Very Likely" On 53-Man Roster

Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys 53-Man Roster: Top 5 Unexpected Moves Made

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys 53-Man Roster: Top 5 Unexpected Moves Made

The Dallas Cowboys and the rest of the NFL have finalized their 53-man rosters for now. The keywords here are “for now”, because rosters are never quite finalized and are churned quite a bit throughout the season. But, I want to focus on the Cowboys 53-man roster and the unexpected moves that were made in order to get to this point.

I don’t know about you, but I was really curious about the moves that would have to be made in order to get down to 53 for the Cowboys. The majority of the moves made I pretty much saw coming, but there were some that completely caught me off guard. If you continue to read below, you will see the top 5 unexpected moves Dallas made that I didn’t see coming.

QB Kellen Moore

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Kellen Moore’s release

Throughout the majority of the off-season the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff was insistent they were comfortable with Kellen Moore as their backup QB heading into the 2017 season. But, with the the unforeseen emergence of Cooper Rush and Moore’s poor performance in preseason, things have changed.

Shockingly, Kellen Moore was one of the roster cuts made to complete the Cowboys 53-man roster this weekend. I it say was shocking because owner/general manager Jerry Jones stated not over a week ago that the Cowboys would keep 3 QBs on their 53-man roster. But if you watched Moore’s performance throughout the preseason, it shouldn’t come to that much of a surprise.

The Cowboys are expected to bring back Kellen Moore in some capacity at some point, either on the practice squad or the active roster. Rumors are it could be when Rico Gathers is placed on IR while he continues to recover from a concussion or he could take Anthony Hitchens spot if he is placed on IR. Regardless, the fact the Cowboys were willing to risk losing Kellen Moore by releasing him was arguably one of the biggest surprises made this weekend.

DT Cedric Thornton

DT Cedric Thornton

Cutting DT Cedric Thornton

If the decision to release Kellen Moore wasn’t the biggest surprise, then cutting defensive tackle Cedric Thornton might just be. Thorton was the Cowboys big-money free agent signing last off-season in 2016, but could never find his footing here in Dallas. Despite the amount of money he is making, the organization wasn’t afraid to cut ties.

Thorton’s roster spot was needed to make a place for Brian Price, who was awarded to the Cowboys off of waivers. Price is more of a space eating DT and spent the majority of last season on the Green Bay Packers practice squad. The Cowboys seem to like Price’s upside, which made Thornton expendable. Unfortunately, Thorton’s poor play resulted in him not making the final Cowboys 53-man roster.

LB Jayrone Elliott

LB Jayrone Elliott

Trading for a LB

The Dallas Cowboys have quite a few concerns surrounding their linebacker position, which is why they probably decided to trade for a LB in the first place. Damien Wilson still faces a possible suspension, Jaylon Smith still needs little more time before he’s ready, Justin Durant is an aging player with injury concerns, and Anthony Hitchens will be out approximately eight weeks.

After already being awarded a Green Bay Packer off of the waiver wire (see above), the Cowboys decided one player wasn’t enough and worked out a trade for LB Jayrone Elliott. Elliott looks more like a tweeter LB/DE, much like Kyle Wilber, but he will add much needed depth to the position. It was a good move to make and only cost the Cowboys a seventh round draft pick in 2018.

CB Bene Benwikere

CB Bene Benwikere

Trading for CB depth

The Dallas Cowboys seemed to have plenty of depth at the cornerback position before roster cuts were made. But, they decided to bring in a veteran CB by trading with the Cincinnati Bengals for Ben Benwikere. Benwikere has bounced around the league a little, but can play in the slot or the outside, giving the Cowboys both experience and depth.

This trade was likely made in order to have some insurance in case their young CBs take a little while getting up to speed. They missed some valuable time to gain experience due to injuries, which made veteran experience a little bit of a concern. Once the Cowboys get a better feel of how their young CBs are able to hold up, Benwikere’s time with the team may come to an end. Players returning from their suspensions will need a roster spot and he might be the low man on the totem pole.

OL Emmett Cleary

OL Emmett Cleary

Keeping Byron Bell over Emmett Cleary

It may just be me, but I was surprised that the Dallas Cowboys decided to keep Byron Bell over Emmett Cleary when roster cuts were made. Both players are similar in that they can both play guard and tackle, but I thought Cleary had the slight edge because he had been in the system a little longer.

Of course, Byron Bell is the more experienced of the two players. He has started at both guard and tackle in the NFL and might be the more reliable at this point. I think he is probably best suited to play inside at OG, which might be why he made the Cowboys 53-man roster over Cleary. If Jonathan Cooper doesn’t pan out at LG, the next man that might be Byron Bell.

What are your unexpected moves the Dallas Cowboys made to complete their 53-man roster?

Brian Martin

Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

  • George_Johnson

    I am not sure what is going on with K Moore. Why did he not play a lot better? He should have been more than ready this preseason. All indications were he was doing well in practices and he had a good first preseason game. In the Rams game he checked down on almost every play but I have not heard an explanation from the coaches. I doubt the coaches think K Moore suddenly lost his skills/abilities to play. In the Colts game he picked it up a little but still was not efficient or very effective. So what gives?

    I am also not sure about re-signing K Moore unless he has a chance at the 2nd team QB position. K Moore needs to start thinking about his next career which is probably as a coach. Most everyone expects him to make it to a lucrative coaching position either in college or the NFL in the future. He obviously would resign if put on the 53 man roster at least for the money but he should think twice about signing for the practice squad or staying on the practice squad. He has been in the NFL going on six years and if he can’t make 2nd team QB it is questionable that he should continue pursuing this career. He has had chances and has improved some but his future in the NFL as a QB doesn’t look good. He is behind the eight ball as most coaches don’t think he meets the minimum requirements (i.e. prototypical size and strong arm) so it is not clear he will get much of a chance.

    • Bryson Treece

      @George_Johnson:disqus I know you’re a dedicated fan of KelMo, and while I’ve never agreed with your zeal for the man as a quarterback, you’re right on the money with the comments about the next step in his career. He’s headed for coaching at some point, and that may be as soon as 2017, and I think he’s got great potential there. Even if he stays on the practice squad–which isn’t likely–it would give him a connection to continue building his coaching skills with a familiar staff.

      As always, thanks for reading, George.

  • Assassin

    I would say the biggest surprise for me was releasing Lewis Neal. And then the fact they like Price better then he (ones on the PS and ones on the 53). Nothing against Price, but Marinelli hasnt shown a propensity for space eaters. And thats what Price is. He’s not going to get to the QB. But he does have a great first step which could take up two OL.

    • Brian Martin

      Neal and Price play two different positions. Neal has been playing the 3-tech and performing pretty well, even though he is undersized. The Cowboys needed more depth at the 1-tech which is why Price was brought in. Luckily though Neal is still around and can be called up at any time. I think it really came down to the fact the Cowboys thought they needed more depth at the 1-tech, because they have players that can kick inside and play at the 3-tech.

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