A month ago, I wrote an article about whether or not an expanded role was in the future for Lucky Whitehead, and now I'm questioning if there will even be a roster spot available for Whitehead once the final cuts are made.
Don't get me wrong, Lucky Whitehead has an intriguing skill set that could be used in several different ways for an offensive coordinator as creative as Scott Linehan, but he's facing some stiff competition at the wide receiver position.
In 2015, Whitehead was mostly utilized on special teams returning punts and kickoffs. Toward the end of the season he started to get more time on offense in the Lance Dunbar type of role. They used Lucky Whitehead on jet sweeps and as a receiver out of the backfield the same way they used Dunbar before his injury.
If that's the same type of role Whitehead will have in the upcoming season, I have a hard time believing that he is worthy of a roster spot when they are so valuable.
Lucky Whitehead is only 5'8" and somewhere around 180 pounds, so that really limits what he can do offensively for the Dallas Cowboys.
We all know that there is no way Lucky Whitehead will ever be able to beat out Cole Beasley as the Cowboys' slot receiver. Not only has Beasley developed really good chemistry with Tony Romo, but he's just a better wide receiver than Whitehead. And because of his size, Whitehead isn't really an option at outside receiver either. So can you justify one of those valuable roster spots going to a player that is mainly going to be used as a returner on special teams?
I know as I sit here right now, I can't say for certain that Lucky Whitehead will make the team after training camp. There are new rule changes on kickoffs in 2016 that will impact whether or not teams decide to carry a kick returner, and no one really knows how teams will approach that change.
Not only that, but if you've been paying attention to the news coming out of recent OTAs and the mini-camp, there are other wide receivers making plays and they might just make Lucky Whitehead expendable.
Is Vince Mayle a Threat to Lucky Whitehead?
Second-year wide receiver Vince Mayle has been mentioned a time or two for making plays. At 6'2" and 224 pounds, Mayle has a size that the Cowboys seem to like in their wide receivers, and he could provide valuable depth if someone was to go down with an injury.
Vince Mayle was drafted in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns, but was ultimately one of their final roster cuts when they were getting down to their final 53 man roster.
He spent nearly the entire year on the Cowboys' practice squad, but their patience with his development may very well pay off, and that could mean bad news for Lucky Whitehead.
Is Andy Jones a Threat to Lucky Whitehead?
Undrafted rookie wide receiver Andy Jones has also opened a lot of eyes during these unpadded practices. Jones has even been given the opportunity to practice with the first team unit, something that can't be discounted considering he's working with Tony Romo.
Like Mayle, Andy Jones (6'2", 214) has a size advantage over Lucky Whitehead and the fact that he's already been given reps with the first team offense doesn't really bode well for Whitehead's chances to make the team.
Jones was one of the Cowboys' 14 undrafted free agents, and received the highest signing bonus ($15,000) of any of the UFAs.
With Dez Bryant a no-brainer to make the team, along with Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, and probably Brice Butler rounding out the top four wide receivers, Lucky Whitehead and the rest of the WRs are battling for that #5 spot. Personally, I don't see the Cowboys carrying more than five receivers on the 53 man roster, especially considering how thin the defensive line is to start the season.
If Lucky Whitehead wants to remain on the Cowboys roster in 2016, he is going to have to start proving to the coaching staff that he is worth keeping around. That he is able to contribute more on offense than other wide receivers.
Again, I have nothing against Lucky Whitehead, but with the receiver position as deep as it has been in recent memory, it's going to be an interesting position to keep track of once training camp gets underway.
Do you think Lucky Whitehead remains a Cowboy in 2016?
Please use the comment section below, because I would love to hear your feedback and discuss this topic further.
Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstated, Will Join Team for Training Camp
The Dallas Cowboys patience with Defensive End Randy Gregory has paid off. Suspended for the better part of 2016 and all of 2017, Gregory has officially been reinstated to join the team for their 2018 training camp. The projected starter at RDE, Gregory will report to Oxnard with the rest of the team on July 25th.
From here, it will be all hard work for Gregory to reconnect with Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli and get his promising career back on track. The last time Gregory suited up for the Cowboys, he managed to sack Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz in a week 17 win. The Cowboys will be expecting much more of this from a player they've supported through multiple violations of the league's heavily criticized substance abuse policy.
Cowboys pass-rusher Randy Gregory's petition for reinstatement was not opposed, according to lawyer Daniel Moskowitz. He's back. "I've never been more proud of any individual in my life. I'm very excited for Randy and his daughter and the rest of the his family.
Among this support staff for Gregory were a number of teammates that wrote formal letters to the NFL as part of his bid for reinstatement. These last few days of preparation before the Cowboys are together again as a team will surely be uplifted by Gregory's presence.
They say no news is typically good news at this point in the offseason, something the Cowboys have come to realize far too often. Today's news shouldn't be confused with a pleasant surprise however, rather something the Cowboys were committed to in getting another premier pass rusher on the field.
Here is the NFL's official press release on their reinstatement of Randy Gregory:
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.
Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make the Roster?
The Dallas Cowboys aren't short on numbers at wide receiver on their current 90-man roster. Looking to replace Dez Bryant and reshape their offense, the Cowboys will have to find the right group of pass catchers for Dak Prescott at their upcoming training camp.
The odd men out from this group will likely be the ones that can't sustain a consistent level of play, doing so across multiple units if needed. All ten receivers will have their flashes, but with only four being true locks to make the team, new Cowboys Wide Receivers Coach Sanjay Lal will be in on some tough decisions right away.
One such decision may be moving on from last year's seventh round pick Noah Brown out of Ohio State. Vouched for by former Buckeyes teammate Ezekiel Elliott thanks to his blocking ability on the outside, it may now be this strength in the run game and deficiency as a pass catcher that spells the end of Brown's run in Dallas.
Normally, a seventh round pick being on the roster bubble wouldn't be this noteworthy, but Brown clearly showed the potential to outplay this draft status as a rookie. Appearing in 13 games, Brown is a true X receiver, although not the dominant one the Cowboys are searching for.
Moving away from fielding a true number one receiver, the Cowboys did sign Allen Hurns to play this spot while prepared to spread the ball around to Williams, Beasley, and Gallup after that.
This leaves Thompson, Wilson, Cannon, Lenoir, McCay, Murdock, and Brown to prove their worth in other ways to make the roster. I've written plenty about the potential rookie Cedrick Wilson has, so I'll be expecting a strong showing from him to earn a role in the Cowboys offense.
Wilson's skill set could push a depth signing like Deonte Thompson off the team, although his ability to back up Cole Beasley/Tavon Austin on special teams is important. The same can be said about Lance Lenoir, who like Brown has the advantage over first year players given his trials through training camp and the preseason a year ago.
Long shots to make the team, Cannon, McCay, and Murdock fall just below this group -- and somewhere in the middle is Noah Brown.
Increasing his role on special teams as the season went on last year, Brown had fans throughout a coaching staff that is now drastically changed for 2018. From their shift to more speed on offense, to drafting of both Gallup and Wilson, calling Brown a fringe player on the Cowboys roster really sets up the fiery competition to come at wide receiver.
Should the Cowboys find a spot for Brown, one can only hope it means this new coaching staff has a clear plan for him to contribute on both offense and special teams outside of being a run blocker. A potential niche for Brown is his red zone ability, not afraid to put his body on the line for jump balls and fight through contact in his routes.
It won't be long until we sort out if this is enough to make the Cowboys as a wide receiver ahead of Quarterback Dak Prescott's third season.
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