11 days. 264 hours. 950,400 seconds. That's how long we have to wait until the 2017 Dallas Cowboys begin the first practice of training camp in Oxnard, California. There will be a field full of players, and a staff full of coaches participating in all practices from July 25th to August 17th. But the one question everyone has on their mind right now is, "What will that 53-man roster look like?"
Today, I'm giving you my version of the Dallas Cowboys 53-Man Roster.
- Dak Prescott
- Kellen Moore
Running Backs (4)
Wide Receivers (6)
Tight Ends (4)
- Jason Witten
- Geoff Swaim
- James Hanna
- Rico Gathers
Offensive Lineman (8)
- Tyron Smith - LT
- La'el Collins - RT
- Zack Martin - RG
- Travis Frederick - C
- Jonathan Cooper - LG
- Chaz Green - T/G
- Joe Looney - G/C
- Emmett Cleary T/G
Defensive Lineman (10)
- Taco Charlton - DE
- DeMarcus Lawrence - DE
- Damontre Moore - DE
- Benson Mayowa - DE
- Charles Tapper - DE
- Tyrone Crawford - DE/DT
- Maliek Collins - DT
- Cedric Thornton - DT
- Stephen Paea - DT
- Joey Ivie - DT
- Sean Lee
- Anthony Hitchens
- Jaylon Smith
- Mark Nzeocha
- Kyle Wilber
- John Lotulelei
- Anthony Brown
- Chidobe Awuzie
- Orlando Scandrick
- Nolan Carroll
- Jourdan Lewis
- Marquez White
- Byron Jones
- Jeff Heath
- Xavier Woods
- Kavon Frazier
- Dan Bailey
- Chris Jones
- L.P. Ladouceur
Notable Names Missing
Obviously, we all should know by now that David Irving is going to be suspended the first four games of the season due to a failed drug test (PEDs). Fortunately for the Cowboys, he will not count against the roster during that time and will not be paid while he serves his suspension.
Another likely starter missing from this list is Damien Wilson. Again, it should be no secret why either. Wilson was recently arrested for assault with a deadly weapon and is facing prison time if convicted. While we haven't heard much about the situation, it's hard to believe Damien Wilson has much of a future left with the team after such a promising two years.
Byron Bell is another name some people may be curious about. Bell was a tough decision for me due to his ability to play both guard and tackle, but that offensive line is crowded and almost all the players in the room are familiar faces, except Bell. Initially, I had Bell on and Emmett Cleary off, but the coaching staff seemed to like Cleary when he saw the field some last year. Both players will compete for one of the last few roster spots in camp, but currently I have Cleary making the cut just ahead of Byron Bell.
It was no question even before the draft that Lucky Whitehead's roster spot wasn't safe, it became even clearer when they selected Ryan Switzer in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Whitehead has made a few big plays for the Cowboys as a returner in his three years with the team. He has also made a few bad decisions -- off and on the field -- that have killed some drives, even some games. With Switzer's ability to add value to the offense and an upgrade on special teams it seems that Lucky's days are numbered in Dallas.
Notable New Faces
In an already crowded cornerback room, Marquez White squeezed his way onto my 53. White is likely a game-day inactive, but trying to get him to the practice squad seems a little too risky for me. I would personally trust White to step in and play if needed. White has some learning to do but has a high ceiling and had impressive film at Florida State.
Noah Brown is another rookie selection. Brown is a big bodied receiver who wins with his physicality. Brown is another guy who is way too risky to try to sneak onto the practice squad, plus injuries haven't treated the Cowboys' receivers too friendly over the last few years. It will likely come down to either Noah Brown or Andy Jones for the final receiver spot, but Brown's traits and ability to play as an outside receiver make him more likely to win the spot.
Without the suspension or release of Damien Wilson, John Lotulelei likely isn't making the team, but with a spot open and how much noise Lotulelei has made in OTAs and mini camp, he's won me over. While he doesn't play the position that Wilson played, he is a veteran player who has experience playing multiple linebacker spots who can add depth to both defense and special teams.
Joey Ivie was another guy who I went back and forth on. With Irving's suspension, backup at the three-technique will be limited to just Tyrone Crawford with him also helping out at defensive end. Ivie is a guy who will shine in training camp and preseason. Joey Ivie is perfect insurance while we wait for Irving to make his return.
The one new guy who could potentially be the biggest difference maker is Jaylon Smith. Jaylon Smith isn't new to the team, but he would be new to the 53-man roster. Smith's availability is still up in the air to start the season, but I have him healthy enough to start the regular season on the roster and contribute enough to warrant that spot. Training camp will tell us how far along Jaylon Smith is, something all of Cowboys Nation has been foaming at the mouth over since last April.
Cowboys & DeMarcus Lawrence Fail to Reach New Contract
DeMarcus Lawrence will definitely be a Cowboy in 2018, but now the future beyond that remains in question. The Dallas Cowboys and their star defensive end did not agree to a long-term contract by today's deadline for franchise-tagged players.
According to NFL rules, teams had until 4:00 pm EST today to reach contract extensions with free agents who'd been assigned the franchise tag earlier this offseason. Players who did not get new deals will have to play the 2018 season on their one-year franchise tenders.
DeMarcus Lawrence and the Cowboys were unable to work out a long-term contract by today's deadline. Lawrence will play the 2018 season under a one-year franchise tag that will pay him $17.1 million
This does not mean Lawrence will be a free agent in 2019. The two parties can still discuss the contract in the months to come, but the deal cannot be made until after the end of the regular season.
Dallas also has the option of giving DeMarcus a second franchise tag next year. However, that would come at a considerably higher price for a second-straight season.
This year, Lawrence will still make plenty with one of the highest cap hits of any DE in the league. He earned the franchise tag last with 14.5 sacks in a breakout season.
Today's news may not really be a big deal in the long run. As long as Tank wants to stay in Dallas after this, the two sides now have over five months to keep talking and will hopefully agree on a new deal for 2019 and beyond.
There is risk on both sides, of course.
Lawrence's leverage could be less if his productions drops or he gets injured. On the other hand, his position could be even stronger with a second-straight year of strong play.
Now everyone, from the team to player to fans, is in wait-and-see mode until the end of the season.
Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstatement Decision Due Soon
The Dallas Cowboys should know by the end of this week if Defensive End Randy Gregory will be reinstated by the NFL from his indefinite suspension.
Gregory, who has missed nearly two seasons with drug-related bans, requested in May for Roger Goodell to allow him to return to football. The exact date of the request isn't known, but multiple sources put it somewhere around May 18-20.
According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the NFL has 60 days to rule on a reinstatement request. That would put the approximate deadline no later than this Friday, July 20th.
Gregory was a second-round pick for Dallas in 2015. He was considered to have potentially elite pass-rushing skills but red flags about behavior and drug use hurt his draft stock.
Obviously those warning signs were warranted. Over three seasons, Randy has missed 30 out of 48 games due to suspension.
But reports from around the Cowboys organization and others who've dealt with Gregory rehabilitation efforts are positive. His appeal request appears strong, backed up by several testimonials that he's turned his life around.
Will Roger Goodell agree? Will Randy Gregory return to the Cowboys 2018?
We should know the answer soon.
Dak Prescott Ranked as Third Least Consistent QB in NFL
Last season could've gone a lot better for Dak Prescott. After a remarkable rookie season, he wasn't able to meet the very high expectations put on him after leading the Dallas Cowboys to the #1 seed in the NFC in 2016.
Inevitably, the "sophomore slump" managed to get to Dak, even though the numbers make it seem worse than it really was. From his 13 interceptions in 2017, not even half can be completely blamed on him. However, even though he made improvements in his game, it's fair to admit that there was indeed, a slump in his second year in the NFL.
Earlier this week, NFL.com published an article listing the most and the least consistent quarterbacks in the league last season. The way the list works is measuring "their average 2017 swing in week-to-week passer rating." In the list, Dak Prescott is listed as the third least consistent QB in the league, with only Cam Newton and Derek Carr behind him.
Just like the Dallas Cowboys' had a roller coaster for a season, constantly shifting between winning and losing, Dak Prescott also struggled at remaining consistent. It makes a ton of sense, of course, for the Cowboys' 9-7 season had a lot of swings throughout the year.
At times, the team was missing its most important defender in Sean Lee. At others, Tyron Smith and/or Ezekiel Elliott weren't on the field either. This is not an attempt to excuse Dak, for he is partly at fault here, as is the entire team.
From week 10 to 12, Dak failed to throw for a touchdown but ended up throwing five interceptions. Later in the season, failing once again to get a TD pass in two straight weeks, he threw for two interceptions at Oakland then another two when hosting the Seahawks in Dallas.
In a season that will likely determine his future with the Dallas Cowboys, Dak needs to find a way to be more consistent week after week regardless of circumstance. Hopefully, with an improved offensive line and with Ezekiel Elliott leaving every suspension drama behind him, his offense will put him in position to have his best year yet.
In 2016 and in 2017, his Total Quarterback Rating has been in the top 4 among all quarterbacks, per ESPN. Now, this is not a stat that tells the whole story, but it does give you an idea of each quarterback's play. In a run-first offense and with a safe passer like Dak, I'm sure consistency will not be hard to deal with for the young QB next season.
As long as he takes advantage of the new set of targets he'll have at his disposal and his offense's powerful running back with recently-signed draftee Connor Williams, this offense will look a lot more like the one we saw in 2016.
We know Dak Prescott has a lot to prove. He has to make longer throws, throw more aggressively to get his receivers open, and more. But consistency is just as important. In order to be continuously successful and to be a contender year after year, you need that in your signal-caller. Even if key players on the team are down, he needs to be able to shine. It's a sixteen-game season, after all.
It's time for Dak to prove he can handle that.
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