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Cowboys’ Job Security: QB, WR, TE

With eight games in and at least eight to go, it seemed a fine time to evaluate the roster. There are many different perspectives you can go with, but if you know me at all then you know I love to put my hat on. Today we're going to look at players within the context of job security, the likelihood that they will still be Cowboys next season. Today we'll look at the quarterbacks, receivers, and tight ends. Tomorrow we'll hit the running backs and line. And then over the weekend we'll cover the .

QUARTERBACKS

– Signed through 2019

If the needle has moved at all on the Cowboys' appreciation of Romo during the first part of this season, it's only increased in his absence. The highest-rated passer in 2014, Romo will hopefully return to the field next week in Miami and pick up with the same level of play. Even if the season is over for the Cowboys, seeing strong play from Romo will be inspiring for next year's campaign.

Romo's future with the team was never in doubt. Even if they wanted to part ways, the $31 million in dead money makes it practically impossible. Romo will certainly be the through 2016 and likely a year or two beyond, provided he can hold up physically.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 100%

– 2016 Unrestricted

Dallas has recently treated their position with more hubris than in years past, content with the risky over more trustworthy options like , , and that have backed up Romo before. Cassel would be more akin to those players and I could easily see Dallas offering him a solid one or two-year deal to stick around.

The big question for Cassel and the Cowboys will be if Dallas finally looks to the draft for Romo's eventual replacement. I don't see Dallas spending a high enough pick, like first or , to where they'd be comfortable with that guy as their primary backup. Even if they bring in a rookie for grooming, I expect Cassel or some other veteran would still be the number-two guy next year.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 70%

Brandon Weeden – 2016 Unrestricted Free Agent

Even if Dallas can't get Cassel to stick around they will likely look elsewhere for a veteran backup. Weeden hasn't shown any growth from the player he was last year, let alone how he played in Cleveland. I might look at it differently if he was still under contract, but I can't see much reason to negotiate a new deal with him.

I'm only giving Weeden's return the slimmest of chances in the possibility that they simply can't find anybody better in if Cassel's not retained.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 10%

WIDE RECEIVERS

– Signed through 2019

I don't need to explain this one, I hope. Dez just got a new deal and has plenty of X's left to throw up in Dallas.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 100%

– Signed through 2016

Williams has been disappointing this year but not enough to be shown the door. He will only count $872k against the cap in the final year of his rookie contract. Even if he falls out of the starting lineup next year, that's still a great salary for an experienced backup. They have no reason to cut him loose.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 100%

– Signed through 2018

Like Dez, Beasley just got a new deal and isn't going anywhere anytime soon. He reminded everyone what an asset he is last week and should only keep that production going once Romo returns.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 100%

– Signed through 2017

There was talk during the offseason from some Cowboys insiders that Street was every bit as good as Terrance Williams. I haven't seen that on the field, and it's not like Williams has been lighting it up.

Street will get every opportunity to keep his job next year in camp and . However, it's not hard to see , , or some new face from the draft or even the current work their way up and force Street out. I'll give him a slight as the incumbent, but I think he'll be in a dogfight for his job.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 60%

Lucky Whitehead – Signed through 2017

We've not only seen Lucky get used more on offense lately but he rewarded the team's trust with a big kickoff return against the Eagles. He has special skills and won't be easy to let go. Anyone near the bottom of the roster can't be too much of a lock, but if he keeps showing than Whitehead could all but secure his spot before the season's over.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 75%

Brice Butler – Signed through 2016

The Cowboys have Butler's original rookie contract having traded for him with Oakland. He is a cheap option with experience and has even shown up in a few games for Dallas. He will likely compete with Street for a roster spot next offseason, and I think he has a great shot at making it.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 50%

TIGHT ENDS

– Signed through 2017

Witten's last game as a Cowboy, barring , will be because he's retiring. There's no sign of that from Jason in at least the next few seasons.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 100%

– Signed through 2016

Drafting Escobar made a lot of sense if you were preparing for the future without Witten, or if you planned on getting him plenty of work in the receiving games. Neither of these appear to have been in the Cowboys' plans, making that pick pretty questionable in retrospect.

Escobar should return to play out his rookie deal. I'm leaving out a slight chance, though, that Dallas looks to move him to a team needing a starting that could be enticed by Escobar's athleticism. They could then look to add a more balanced player with better blocking skills, or just stick with , moving forward.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 90%

James Hanna – 2016 Unrestricted Free Agent

Hanna's in a tough spot as he enters free agency. He's done well when called upon here but hasn't been given enough opportunities to show his stuff. Dallas likely values him more than any other NFL team will, which could help him to at least find work.

The issue will be Hanna's asking price and ambition. He's likely going to have to take a minimal deal for Dallas to keep him, given that he'd be no better than the number-three player on the . If he willing to accept a low salary and a lesser role here for fear of what could happen on the open market? Only he knows.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 50%

– Signed through 2018

The seventh-round rookie will at least be back for another offseason and has shown solid potential. I imagine he will be at least the fourth tight end, if not the third, next season.

LIKELIHOOD TO RETURN: 75%

Jess Haynie
Jess Haynie
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!

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