All NFL teams trimmed their rosters down to 53 players yesterday, with plenty of action still in the works as the waiver process, trades, and other potential moves play out. The Dallas Cowboys' 2019 roster as of this moment may be different this time tomorrow, but let's stop and just take stock of what the team's done so far.
As you go through my thoughts and reactions, the following links may prove useful:
As you can see from the projection I linked above, so far I was right on 48 of the 53 picks. I say “so far” because a couple of additional moves could be coming that will improve my accuracy.
Right now Dallas is carrying a few injured players on their current roster. It is expected that at least two of them will be placed on injured reserve today or tomorrow, with the ability to return after Week 8 since they were on the initial 53-man roster:
- G Connor McGovern (pectoral)
- LB Luke Gifford (ankle)
- S Darian Thompson (ankle)
- S Donovan Wilson (ankle)
Given their health issues and recovery timetables, Gifford and McGovern should be headed to IR shortly. That will open up two roster spots for Dallas to add talent from other teams' cuts, or perhaps bring back a couple of their own players who were cut yesterday.
If the rumors are true about a contract agreement coming soon between RB Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys, one of those open spots will be his. Right now Zeke doesn't count against the 53-man roster limit as he never reported to training camp, but that will change if a contract is worked out sometime in the next 24-48 hours.
As for the other spot, if Dallas doesn't add a fresh face from another team, I expect that will go to preseason standout LB Justin Phillips. Putting Gifford on IR would bring the Cowboys down to just five linebackers, and that's very thin given their use on special teams and the injury risk with Sean Lee.
Beyond those decisions, what else was surprising or notable from Dallas' moves yesterday and what more could we see happen?
- The Elliott news Saturday morning made the other RB decisions easier to understand. Dallas released all three of Jordan Chunn, Darius Jackson, and Mike Weber, electing to keep veteran Alfred Morris instead. However, I could still see Dallas swapping out Morris for Chunn once they have Zeke back in the fold, needing their third RB to be able to contribute on special teams.
- My biggest surprise of the day was seeing both Donovan Olumba and Michael Jackson cut at cornerback. I figured at least one would make it, but it's not that shocking when you consider that Dallas only had four corners on their Week One roster in 2018. C.J. Goodwin staying on makes five, though he's mainly here as a special teams leader.
- It was also surprising to see the Cowboys keep 11 total offensive linemen. One of those is the aforementioned Connor McGovern, assumably headed to IR, but even keeping 10 seems awfully high given team history. Last year, Dallas opened 2018 with just nine offensive linemen and one of those was an inactive Travis Frederick. It makes you think that a trade is coming; Joe Looney or Xavier Su'a-Filo are both assets who other teams got to see play a lot last year.
- I let the last preseason game cloud my judgment in projecting DT Daniel Wise to make the team and I should've known better. The numbers just didn't add up, especially with Tyrone Crawford and Taco Charlton both hanging around. If either of them does get traded in the next few days, Wise is probably the guy Dallas brings back (assuming he doesn't get poached).
- What a great move adding WR Devin Smith last January is turning out to be. The Cowboys took a no-risk, high-reward flyer on the former 2015 2nd-round pick (37th overall) whose career was almost derailed by multiple ACL injuries. Now he's on the 53-man roster and someone you're hoping gets some targets in the regular season.
- It's nice to see Kavon Frazier back for a fourth season, but you have to wonder if it's only a short-term measure. Dallas may just be covering themselves temporarily while Thompson and Wilson are both battling ankle injuries.
- On a related note, a lot can happen over the next two weeks when it comes to injuries. Given that, it's probably silly to speculate who gets released in Week 3 to make room for DE Robert Quinn's return from suspension. But if somehow we make it through two games without any new names headed to IR, I could easily see Kavon Frazier being the fall guy (assuming that Thompson and Wilson are both okay at that point).