The Dallas Cowboys have a little bit extra time on their hands to evaluate the roster now that the Week 4 preseason game with the Houston Texans has been canceled. That doesn't necessarily mean they will make cuts early, it just means they have a little extra time to evaluate every single position.
It may just be me, but I still have some concerns with a few positions and believe the Cowboys could stand to find some upgrades. They can do this in one of two ways: 1) they can work out a trade with another team, or 2) put in a waiver claim for someone who was recently cut by their ball club.
Now, the Dallas Cowboys depth chart is pretty talented from top to bottom, but if you continue reading below you will see the positions I believe might still need to be upgraded. As always, feel free to agree or disagree.
The linebacker position for the Dallas Cowboys became a real concern when Anthony Hitchens went down with an injury against the Indianapolis Colts. Fortunately, it wasn't as serious as believed and he will only be out for approximately eight weeks. But, it is a serious hit to the depth of the position.
Right now, Sean Lee might be the only sure thing. Justin Durant will likely step in at MLB for Hitchens and Damien Wilson will probably start at SAM. But, Durant has yet to get a lot of practice repetitions and Wilson still faces a possible suspension. Things are even more cloudy regarding second-year LB Jaylon Smith and his availability. Is he ready to take on a full-time workload?
The Dallas Cowboys will undoubtably keep a close eye on the waiver wires once cuts are made and possibly explore a trade for more linebacker depth. Unfortunately, there are just too many unknowns at this point to fill secure in what they currently have on the roster. The linebacker position might just be the one position on the entire team that needs an upgrade the most.
If you look at the depth chart at the defensive end position you will notice the Dallas Cowboys currently have enough bodies to make it through the entire season. But, like the LB position, there are concerns because of availability. We already know about the players that are suspended to start the year (Damontre Moore and David Irving), but there are concerns with some of the other DEs as well.
Two DEs have back concerns that are worrisome (Lawrence and Tapper) and there has still not been any word of when Tyrone Crawford might be able to return to the field. It's hard to believe the Cowboys are relying on Taco Charlton to be a huge difference maker as a rookie, but at least he's been healthy so far.
DEs are really difficult to come by, but the Dallas Cowboys have to be keeping a close watchful eye out for someone who can come in and at least help get them through the first month of the season until they can get their suspended players back on the field. If they are looking for an upgrade they will probably have to do it via trade because of how far down they are the waiver wire.
As things stand right now, I think there are only three DTs who are guaranteed a roster spot: Maliek Collins, Cedric Thornton, and Stephen Paea. With as much as defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli likes to rotate his DL, depth is definitely a concern.
I think Lewis Neal has a chance to start the season as Collins' backup at the 3-technique, but he might just be a fill-in until suspensions are served. Both Tyrone Crawford and David Irving can kick inside DT, but neither may be available to start the season. Depth at DT isn't really a top priority, but finding an upgrade isn't out of the question.
The Cowboys did draft two DTs, but neither is expected to make the final 53-man roster. They will probably try to sign them back to the practice squad, but I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see them put in a waiver claim or work out a trade for a player they believe may be an upgrade.
Through all of the off-season practices and four preseason games, the Dallas Cowboys still probably don't know who will start at LG on opening day of the season. Jonathan Cooper and Chaz Green have received the most opportunities to prove themselves, but neither has really stood out.
Green simply can't remain healthy, so there's no way they can feel comfortable with him as a starter. Cooper probably gets the nod because of that, but even he has had a history of injuries in his NFL career. Byron Bell is a wild card here, but even he hasn't been able to stand out.
The Dallas Cowboys will probably stick with status quo here, but that doesn't mean they won't be looking for an upgrade. They can't afford to let the LG position negatively affect one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. If I'm the Cowboys, I'm exploring all possibilities and leave no stone unturned.
What positions do you think might still need an upgrade?
Cowboys WR Deonte Thompson Benefits Most From Terrance Williams Issue
The fallout from Cowboys Receiver Terrance Williams' arrest yesterday remains to be seen. Whether or not it costs him a roster spot is hard to say, but a suspension is likely. Whatever the case, veteran Deonte Thompson stands to be the biggest beneficiary of Terrance's issues.
Signed last March to a minimal one-year, $1.8 million contract, Thompson is a 29-year-old late bloomer who only last season got some notice in Buffalo. Given the limitations of the Bills' passing game with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback, Dallas clearly hopes that Deonte could do more with a more traditional offense and passer.
The Cowboys acquisition of Thompson was quickly overshadowed after they picked up Allen Hurns just a few weeks later. Deonte was actually signed just a couple of days after Hurns' release from Jacksonville, so it's fair to question if Dallas would have even signed him if they'd already picked up Hurns.
Even with Dez Bryant's release, the depth chart still didn't look good for Thompson. He was clearly behind Hurns and Cole Beasley and was likely battling with Terrance Williams for targets. Once the team drafted Michael Gallup in the third round, things looked even worse for the veteran.
But now, if Williams is going to miss time or be gone completely, Deonte Thompson could find himself with a big role to start the year.
While Gallup is exciting, he's also a rookie. Thompson has been a starter the last few years and played in a few different systems. Dallas may lean on his experience early if Terrance is gone either temporarily or permanently.
One reason the Cowboys brought Deonte in was for speed, and that value doesn't change regardless of who else is on the roster. Essentially, Thompson is the new Brice Butler; intriguing qualities but just no consistent production at other stops.
If Deonte can do more with what Dallas throws him than Butler did, he might carve out a steady role. Brice always seemed to follow up his big plays with blunders, never gaining any real momentum during his time as a Cowboy.
Before Williams' arrest, there was a legitimate question as to whether or not Thompson would even make the 2018 roster. If younger prospects like Noah Brown and Lance Lenoir made noise, perhaps Dallas would've just let the 29-year-old walk.
But with Terrance's availability now the big question, Thompson's experience becomes vastly more important. It could mean a big early role in 2018.
Depending on what he does with his opportunity, Deonte Thompson could've gone from an offseason afterthought to a major part of the team's success.
Is Terrance Williams Roster Spot Safe with Dallas Cowboys?
This will hardly be the last article written about the wide receivers of the Dallas Cowboys entering the 2018 season. However, we can only hope it's the last off-field incident that will factor into the difficult decisions the Cowboys will make on their final depth chart at WR. Yesterday, veteran Wide Receiver Terrance Williams was arrested for public intoxication after leaving the scene of a crash involving his Lamborghini.
Cowboys WR Terrance Williams released a statement on his recent arrest detailing several facets of the incident: "I have always been an upstanding citizen and handled the situation the best way I know how.
Details concerning the severity of the incidents that led to Williams arrest remain somewhat unclear. His on-field production certainly has not been though, putting himself in an expendable position by failing to catch a touchdown in 2017 and only going for over 100 yards once.
Handling this Terrance Williams situation in whatever the "right way" is will be yet another critical decision the Cowboys make under Head Coach Jason Garrett. A team that has clearly valued continuity under Garrett, there is precedent for the Cowboys keeping a now-troubled player like Williams if the void he'd leave behind is too large.
It is widely believed that this is a Cowboys coaching staff working to keep their jobs in 2018. Losing Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, and Terrance Williams in one offseason may very well be too much.
Already dealing with a broken foot that expects to keep Terrance Williams out of football activities until training camp though, it is becoming increasingly easier for Williams to become forgotten about in new WR Coach Sanjay Lal's room.
New additions to this unit include FA signings Allen Hurns and Deonte Thompson, along with rookies Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson. Joined by the likes of KD Cannon, Lance Lenoir, and Malik Earl, all of these receivers are going to stake their claims for a spot on the Dallas Cowboys before Williams even catches another pass from Dak Prescott.
Once perceived to be fighting for positions below Hurns, Williams, and Cole Beasley as locks on the final 53 man roster, Williams' arrest is the epitome of "next man up" in Dallas. Even if Williams remains with the team in 2018 - as cutting him would only make moral sense for the Cowboys, not financial - his days as a starting receiver may very well be numbered.
As mentioned, this won't be the first look we have at the status of the Cowboys receivers. I'm already on record having high expectations for Michael Gallup, and believe Cedrick Wilson was one of the steals of the draft for the Cowboys in the sixth round. The unproven nature of this pass catching unit (through to TE with rookie Dalton Schultz) is going to make for fascinating training camp battles, competing for spots in an offense that could still be one of the league's best.
Terrance Williams Arrest: Salary Cap Impact if Released
The news of Cowboys Wide Receiver Terrance Williams' arrest yesterday sent a shockwave through an otherwise quiet mid-May news cycle. Many fans are wondering what the team might do, and what effect the decision could have on Dallas' salary cap.
Unfortunately, moving on from Terrance won't bring the team any cap relief. But given their current cap space and where we are in the offseason, the Cowboys should have the freedom to cut the receiver if they choose to.
Depending on who you ask (OverTheCap, Spotrac), the Cowboys have somewhere between $5-$9 million in current cap room. If they release Williams before June 1st, his cap hit accelerates from $4.75 million to $7.25 million in dead money. That means he counts $2.5 million more off the team than on it.
If Terrance is cut on June 1st on later, the 2018 dead money is $4.75 million for a net-zero wash. That extra $2.5 million counts against 2019.
While that may sound cost-prohibitive on the surface, you have to remember where we are in the offseason. May is very different from March when you're talking about cap space.
Free agency is essentially over. The Cowboys don't need to worry too much about their 2018 cap room at this point, so they can absorb Williams' dead money if they want to cut him loose.
Martin's 2018 cap hit is currently around $9 million. Once he signs his new long-term deal, which is almost sure to come before training camp, that number should go down significantly. Dallas can do an immediate Year One restructure and potentially create around $6 million in cap space.
That alone would facilitate cutting Terrance Williams, but then they also have the hopeful new deal for Lawrence. The $17 million that Lawrence currently counts as a franchised player will go way down with a long-term contract. If Dallas can get that done, they may not have to touch Martin's deal.
The point here is that while cutting Williams is not a financially beneficial move, the money shouldn't stop the Cowboys if they don't want him around anymore.
If Terrance has proven anything during his five years in Dallas, it's that he doesn't have the talent to step into a primary role. With new arrival Allen Hurns and Cole Beasley both showing they can produce at a high level at times, plus exciting rookie Michael Gallup now in the mix, the Cowboys' season hardly relies on Williams' presence.
Of course, the Cowboys have a history of sticking by their guys during times of personal problems. Josh Brent did way worse than Terrance and remained supported by the organization.
But each situation and player are different, and the coaches may have already soured on Williams after a lackluster 2017. They may have only kept him because of those cap numbers we discussed before.
Terrance's latest dropped ball may have been the final straw, though. If so, the salary cap shouldn't stop Dallas from cutting him.
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