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Earning Their Star: Which WRs Will Make The Cowboys 53 Man Roster?

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Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys Fantasy Football Outlook: Wide Receivers

In the midst of OTAs and with training camp quickly approaching, the Dallas Cowboys are getting their first looks at a lot of the new players on the roster. The team focused heavily on the defensive side of the ball in the offseason, but one position on offense that they worked on is wide receiver.

The Cowboys are currently jam-packed with bodies and a lot of talent at wide receiver.

That depth chart looks a little something like this:

  1. Dez Bryant 
  2. Terrance Williams
  3. Cole Beasley
  4. Brice Butler
  5. Ryan Switzer
  6. Andy Jones
  7. Lucky Whitehead
  8. Noah Brown
  9. Brian Brown
  10. Quincy McDuffie
  11. Uzoma Nwachukwu

Of course, not all of these guys will make the team, but in previous years the Cowboys went a little light at receiver.

In 2016 the Cowboys went into the season with Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Brice Butler, and Lucky Whitehead. Could 2017 be the year we see six receivers? Could even more make the 53 man roster?

Sorting Out Wide Receiver Roles

When we look at who is a lock to make the team we, of course, know that Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, and Ryan Switzer are almost certain to make the team.

Could The Cowboys Keep 6 Wide Receivers?

Nov 26, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrance Williams (83) and wide receiver Cole Beasley (11) and wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) before the game against the Carolina Panthers game on Thanksgiving at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams are veteran receivers who don't play much of a special teams role at all. We all have dreamed about the idea of having Dez return punts like he did in his rookie season, but that ship has sailed. Terrance Williams is a quality #2 receiver and isn't asked to do much on the special teams side of the ball.

But Ryan Switzer and Cole Beasley are different stories.

Both, Ryan Switzer and Cole Beasley will play a role in the kicking game this season.

Which Cowboys' Rookie Will Have The Best 2017 Season?

Switzer was drafted in the fourth round by the Cowboys to be a difference maker. While Switzer is showing early signs that he can do just that on offense, the coaching staff had other ideas when they turned in his card.

Ryan Switzer was one of, if not the most productive punt returner in college football throughout his career.

Switzer finished his career at North Carolina with 99 punt returns for 1,082 yards (10.9 YPR) and seven touchdowns. Switzer's vision in the open field, shiftiness to break tackles, and quick feet make him a nightmare to locate and bring down in the open field.

Is Lucky's Luck Running Out?

Cowboys Headlines - Cowboys Leave Lucky Whitehead In Dallas, Won't Play Giants On SNF

With Switzer likely taking over as the team's punt returner, Cole Beasley being a big weapon on offense who also handed a good amount of punt return reps last year, Lucky Whitehead's future with the team is looking rather bleak.

Whitehead was brought in as a UDFA in 2015 and won the hearts of many fans with his charming attitude, interactions with the fans, and funny snap chat videos. What Lucky has yet to do is make any real impact on the football field.

Whitehead has been the primary kick returner and has slowly let Cole Beasley take punt returns away from him due to his lack of production and propensity to fumble. Whitehead doesn't offer much on offense, just the occasional jet sweep, which is something Ryan Switzer can do just as good, if not better with his running back background.

To make matters worse for Lucky's chances, he is currently dealing with a hamstring injury that is keeping him out of OTAs. Whitehead's off the field issues, injury concerns, and lack of production may have his days in Dallas numbered.

What To Do With Brice Butler?

Brice Butler, Packers

Brice Butler is a tough evaluation. The Cowboys acquired Butler with a fifth round pick in November, 2015 to the Raiders after Dez Bryant went down with an injury. Butler hasn't really disappointed or impressed; he has been an average down-the -depth-chart receiver since joining the team.

Butler has been given the title as the Cowboys' best deep threat, but we have yet to see him win in that way consistently. In his two years with Dallas, Butler has hauled in 28 catches for 477 yards and three touchdowns in a limited role.

Even with this stat line, the Cowboys decided to give Brice Butler a one year, $1.1 million contract in the offseason.

That means the team has to save him a roster spot right?

Wrong.

Butler's contract is so small that if he doesn't perform well in training camp or one of the younger receivers out-play him, the team can simply cut Butler and only lose $300,000.

The ball is in Butler's court.

Taking A Shot With A Young Gun

Like I mentioned earlier, the Cowboys depth chart is loaded this offseason. Rookies Noah Brown and Brian Brown have a lot of work to do to make this roster, but I have a feeling at least one of them will.

Noah Brown

Cowboys Draft: Scouting 7th Round WR Noah Brown

Noah Brown was one of three draft picks the team had in the seventh round of this year's draft and I think they got quiet the steal in the former Ohio State Buckeye.

Noah Brown is a big dude, standing at 6'2 220 lbs, and that's exactly how he plays.

Brown was supposed to be the #1 target for the Buckeyes going into the 2016 season, but he struggled to get things going. Brown had 32 catches for 402 yards and seven touchdowns in his sophomore season.

Noah Brown's style of play is very similar to that of Dez Bryant. Both players use their size and physicality to high-point the ball and bring down contested catches. Brown's upside may force the team to stash him on the roster, because I don't like the chances of trying to get him to the practice squad.

Brian Brown

Brian Brown - Wide Receiver

Brian Brown is a player I am very familiar with. Brown attended the University of Richmond, which is about a 10-minute walk from my house. With Virginia Tech and University of Virginia a ways away from me, and getting most of the college football hype, it was nice to have a player drafted right out of my back yard.

But don't worry, I am not including Brian Brown in this article just because of where he played, this kid can ball!

With all the bodies at the position right now, Brian will have to go above and beyond to make this team, but don't count him out. He finished his senior season with 81 receptions, 1,485 yards, and 11 touchdowns.

Brown has a knack for making some pretty ridiculous catches and creating separation at the top of his routes.

Andy Jones

Andy Jones

WR Andy Jones (Paul Spinelli via AP)

Every year we all fall in love with a player in training camp and believe he will be the next savior. Last year that guy was Andy Jones. Jones made a name for himself last year in OTAs and training camp, but struggled in the preseason.

Andy Jones landed on the practice squad last year and is out working hard again early in the offseason programs this year.

Both Tony Romo and Dak Prescott have commented on how much potential he has and how much he has grown from his rookie season. We will see when the lights come on in the preseason if Andy Jones can finally earn his star.

Final Prediction

My final prediction has the Dallas Cowboys keeping six wide receivers on their final 53 man roster, while sending two receivers to the practice squad and cutting three.

Final 53 Man Roster

  1. Dez Bryant
  2. Terrance Williams
  3. Cole Beasley
  4. Ryan Switzer
  5. Brice Butler
  6. Noah Brown

Practice Squad

  1. Brice Brown
  2. Andy Jones

Cut

  1. Lucky Whitehead
  2. Quincy McDuffie
  3. Uzoma Nwachukwu

Fantasy Football Blog - Cowboys 2015 Fantasy Football Outlook: Wide Receivers

I decided to keep six receivers for a few reasons.

Dez Bryant seems to miss games every year and Brice Butler usually fills in nicely for him, but keeping Noah Brown gives the Cowboys another option to plug-in if an injury or lack of production pushes another player down the depth chart.

Carrying six wide receivers likely means the Cowboys will have to go short somewhere else on offense. Whether it's just keeping two quarterbacks or maybe letting Ryan Switzer fill in as the fourth running back.

This offense was great last year and with the talent they added at wide receiver it has the potential to be even better!

Leave me your thoughts on what you think the Dallas Cowboys 2017 wide receiver depth chart should look like.



Born in 1995, loved Football but more importantly the Dallas Cowboys since day one. Living in Redskins Country flying the Blue and Silver flag as high as possible. Covering the Dallas Cowboys for InsideTheStar.com and CowboysNation.com. Catch me on twitter @ConnorNFLDraft!

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Dallas Cowboys

What Could June 1st Mean for 2019 Dallas Cowboys?

Jess Haynie

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Tyrone Crawford

Some consider June 1st to be a critical date on every year's NFL calendar; it's own new wave of free agency. But will the 2019 Dallas Cowboys add any talent to the pool, and could they be interested in any players who get released by their current teams?

As you likely know already, teams may choose to cut players after June 1st so that they can defer some of the dead money from their contracts to the following season. It allows them to maximize salary cap savings in the current year.

For over a decade now, the NFL has also allowed teams to release up to two players prior to June 1st but still give them that designation. The team doesn't get the cap relief until June, but the player gets a chance to find a new home during the primary free agency period.

There have been almost no early June-1st cuts so far this year by any NFL team. That may lead you to believe that there will be similar inactivity when we actually hit that date on the calendar. But that may not be a very good tell.

Because teams don't enjoy any benefit from the early June-1st designation, except whatever good feeling comes from doing right by a former player, we hardly see it in action. Teams would much rather carry a player until after the draft and see what their need levels truly is before releasing them. It's rendered the early provision almost meaningless.

For the 2019 Dallas Cowboys, the one player whose situation and contract speak to a possible June-1st move is Defensive Lineman Tyrone Crawford.

Tyrone Crawford

Dallas Cowboys DL Tyrone Crawford

Crawford's deal runs thru 2020, which is key since you need at least two year's left on the contract to utilize the June-1st deferment. A player with only one year left, like WR Allen Hurns, has the same cap relief regardless of when you cut him.

Releasing Tyrone Crawford either after June 1st or with the early designation would push $1.1 million of his total $4.2 million in dead money to 2020. It would increase the total cap savings from $5.9 million to $7 million for the Cowboys' 2019 salary cap.

Now Crawford is one of those guys, a valued veteran and team captain, who you'd think a team would've cut earlier if that was their intention. But Tyrone's value to the Cowboys has been fluid throughout the offseason.

The value went up when we found out Randy Gregory was suspended again. It remained high while contract negotiations with DeMarcus Lawrence dragged until early April. Crawford's ability to play multiple spots on the line meant he could be back in a starting role at DE in 2019.

But then Dallas re-signed Lawrence, traded for veteran Robert Quinn, signed Kerry Hyder, and drafted Joe Jackson and Jalen Jelks. Throw in Taco Charlton and Dorance Armstrong coming back and there are already plenty of players at DE, especially if Gregory manages to get reinstated.

But even if Crawford isn't needed at end, what about defensive tackle?

Trysten Hill

Dallas Cowboys DT Trysten Hill

The Cowboys spent their earliest 2019 draft pick, 58th overall, on DT Trysten Hill. He projects to play the same "3-technique" position that Crawford normally would.

On top of Hill, Dallas is bringing back Maliek Collins, Antwaun Woods, and Daniel Ross form last season. They also signed Christian Covington, a fifth-year veteran from the Texans.

Again, the numbers are pretty tight and the positions are full of younger talent. The Cowboys could easily conclude that they have plenty of DL options at this point and would benefit more from salary cap relief than from Tyrone Crawford's continued services.

Plus, we haven't even gotten into the legal issues that could cause Crawford to get suspended for a few game in 2019.

As far as current talent goes, the June-1st conversation really begins and ends with Tyrone Crawford. Other veterans who may not make it to the final roster, such as Hurns, Jeff Heath, or Tavon Austin, only have one year left on their contracts. June 1st changes nothing for them.

There could be a few interesting names that come available when other teams make cuts. Again, they could have made these moves well before now. But NFL franchises are generally going to do what's best for them, and waiting for the dust to settle from the draft allows for more informed decision-making.

One name we've seen tossed around a lot is DT Gerald McCoy from Tampa Bay, who would be an immediate upgrade over any of Dallas' current tackles. But would losing Crawford to add McCoy really be that cost-effective?

The market to really keep an eye on is at running back. The current free agency pool had dwindled down to Jay Ajayi, who is unlikely to accept a minor role behind Ezekiel Elliott, and a bunch of retreads. Perhaps other teams' cuts could yield a few more desirable prospects to help our RB depth.

For 2019 at least, June 1st may not mean very much. And it may mean even less for the Dallas Cowboys, who already could field a competitive team this year without any additional moves. They may be focusing their cap dollars solely on new contracts for Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Zeke, and others the rest of this offseason.

Outside of potentially releasing or trading Tyrone Crawford, we may not see any major moves in Dallas until final cuts.



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Dallas Cowboys

Kicker Matt Bryant Should Be the Final Piece of Cowboys 2019 Offseason

Jess Haynie

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Kicker Matt Bryant Should Be the Final Piece of Cowboys 2019 Offseason

The draft is done, DeMarcus Lawrence is re-signed, and the bulk of free agency activity has passed. The 2019 Dallas Cowboys have more than enough talent to compete this season, but there is still one last move I'd wish they'd make. Veteran kicker Matt Bryant, still one of the NFL's best even at almost 44 years old, could be the final piece to this offseason puzzle.

The Atlanta Falcons' longtime kicker, and franchise scoring leader, was not retained this year despite another standout season. He made 20-of-21 field goals, with a long of 57, in 2018.

Why Atlanta didn't keep Bryant hasn't been confirmed, but perhaps the team was just looking to avoid hanging on one year to late. But Matt, who ranks eight all-time in FG accuracy (86.2%), doesn't think he's done. He tweeted the following from his personal account in February:

"Over this past year I’ve been asked numerous times about retirement and how I feel. Well, I’m not retiring and I feel fine and plan on feeling even better with some changes to my offseason program!

As of now Matt Bryant remains a free agent, and I think the Dallas Cowboys should be very interested.

If you go up and down this Dallas roster, kicker is arguably its biggest liability. Brett Maher had some highlight moments in 2018, and won two Player of the Week awards, but he also was one of the league's worst kickers in overall FG accuracy.

Brett Maher

Dallas Cowboys K Brett Maher

The problem with Maher is that you can't teach his best skill; the accuracy from the high 50s and even low 60s is incredible. It's a true weapon that you have a hard time letting go of, which was evident last year when Dallas dumped Dan Bailey for Maher at final cuts.

But Matt Bryant might be the best of both worlds. He's been a 91% FG kicker overall this last three years and has made 18-of-22 attempts from 50 yards out or more.

Maher only made 80.6% of his kicks in 2018. He went from 6/7 from long range, but that tells you how shaky he was from closer in.

Those closer kicks are worth the same three points that the longer ones are, and how'd you like it if Dallas lost a critical game because their kicker couldn't make a 35-yarder?

I get the fear factor with an older guy like Matt Bryant. Heck, the Cowboys let Dan Bailey go when he was still just 30. But Bryant hasn't shown the red flags that Bailey did; he's still kicking as well as he ever has.

If nothing else, Dallas has the cap space and circumstances to bring in Bryant for a true competition with Maher. If Brett has improved his game and keeps his job, then that's awesome. But why not add some pressure now, though a position battle with one of the all-time greats, and see what Maher's really made of?

Seasons have been made, and shattered, by one kick. Unless the Cowboys have good reason for confidence in Brett Maher's development from last year, they could be carrying a significant liability into a year where they're trying to push for a Super Bowl.

If Matt Bryant could provide even a small amount of additional security, isn't he worth it?



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Player News

Cowboys RB Mike Weber’s Injury Scare Continues Concerning Trend

Jess Haynie

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Mike Weber

Rookie RB Mike Weber had a brief scare earlier this week with a knee injury in practice, but thankfully the MRI came back with a good report. However, as he fights to have a future with the Dallas Cowboys, this health incident is a concerning reminder of Weber's recent history.

One reason that Weber fell to the seventh round of the 2019 NFL Draft was due to battling injuries during his last two years at Ohio State. He lost his starting job in 2017 due to ongoing hamstring issues and also had to miss time last year because of a foot strain.

Carrying the load for the Buckeyes is a far different workload than being second or third on the Cowboys' RB depth chart. But this latest scare happened in early May, just two weeks after Mike joined the team and well before the more strenuous activities of an NFL offseason.

A practice injury can cost you just as badly as one that happens in a game. And with Dallas already thin at RB, it could leave them severely shorthanded if it occurs during the regular season.

Many have projected that the Cowboys' RB group in 2019 would have Ezekiel Elliott as the obvious starter and then rookies Weber and Tony Pollard behind him. While Pollard was drafted three rounds ahead of Weber, he's not built to take a large number of carries if Zeke were to go out.

If Mike Weber does make the team, he would be expected to take a sizable role if something bad happen with Elliott.

Mike Weber

Dallas Cowboys RB Mike Weber

The "injury prone" label is disastrous for any athlete, but especially a guy with no real claim to a roster spot. If Weber causes concern in the front office about his durability, they may go a different way at final cuts.

Remember, Mike's not just up against Pollard and Darius Jackson for a roster spot. There are still plenty of veteran free agent running backs out there that Dallas could turn to if they're not confident about their young prospects.

This isn't too say that one scary moment in May, which ultimately didn't amount to much, is reason to cut bait with Mike Weber. But when you stack it up with his injury history in college, it does make you wonder how he'll do over the course of an entire NFL season.

Hopefully, Weber bounces back from this and has a great summer. Former Buckeye RBs have treated Dallas well the last few years, and it'd be fantastic if Mike can provide the same solid solid depth that Rod Smith did.

But this latest news is just a reminder of why Dallas can't rest easy at running back just yet, and why they may still have another move to make to prepare for 2019.



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