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Questioning The Dallas Cowboys Final 53 Man Roster

Brian Martin

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- Auto Draft

The Dallas Cowboys announced their 53 man roster a few days ago and to be completely honest they made some head scratching moves, at least to the people outside the organization.

I thought I would take this opportunity to share with all of you some of the questions I have in regards to the Cowboys roster and what I would do to help provide depth from top to bottom.

I personally found it a little strange some of the positions they decided to go long at, especially considering it caused them to go short at positions that were already worrisome to begin with.

Below are three questions and solutions I have regarding the Cowboys 53 man roster as it stands now.

How many running backs is too many?

Cowboys Headlines - Questioning The Dallas Cowboys Final 53 Man RosterWe all knew that it would be difficult for the Dallas Cowboys to decide which running backs would make the final 53 man roster, but I don't think anyone would've predicted that they keep six total RBs.

It's almost as if they couldn't decide who stays and who goes, so they chose not to make a decision at all.

Ezekiel Elliott, Alfred Morris, Darius Jackson, and Lance Dunbar all look good on paper, but how the coaching staff is going to determine individual roles for each player is completely mind-boggling.

To make matters even more confusing, the Cowboys decided to keep two fullbacks as well.

The Dallas Cowboys only use a fullback occasionally as it is, so to keep two of them means your sacrificing depth at another position.

It's really going to be interesting to see how the coaching staff handles the RBs for the Week 1 match up against the New York Giants. Maybe then we can get some answers.

My solution: Cut both Rod and Keith Smith, which would free up two roster spots and give Geoff Swaim a new offensive role.

Is there safety in numbers?

Cowboys Headlines - Questioning The Dallas Cowboys Final 53 Man Roster 1Minds were blown when the Dallas Cowboys announced the roster cuts and safety JJ Wilcox was not among them.

For years now fans have been calling for Wilcox to get the ax, but for some reason the Cowboys decided to keep five safeties, which saved Wilcox's job for now.

We all know that Byron Jones and Barry Church are penciled in as the starters, with Jeff Heath as the reserve after signing a new long-term contract.

It was thought that the Cowboys would just keep four safeties, with rookie Kavon Frazier claiming that last spot based on his performance in the preseason. That simply wasn't the case, but again the decision to go a little long at the safety position means you have to go a little short somewhere else.

The Cowboys must want Wilcox around mainly for special teams, because he has yet to develop as a reliable safety. He may however be on a short leash if the Cowboys decided to add another player and need a roster spot.

My solution: Keep Wilcox for now, but if depth is needed at a different position (defensive end), then cut #27 and use his vacated roster spot.

Defensive end depth or lack thereof

Cowboys Headlines - Questioning The Dallas Cowboys Final 53 Man Roster 2Probably the biggest surprise when the Dallas Cowboys announced their 53 man roster was the lack of depth at the defensive end position.

I'm sure all eyes will be on who the bookends are on the defensive line when they square off against the New York Giants Week 1. Nobody really knows who is going to start it DE or the Cowboys.

David Irving has shown a little promise in the preseason and it looks as if Jack Crawford will be in that DE rotation somewhere. Then you have the unknown in Benson Mayowa. He played a little bit against the Seahawks, but not really enough to gauge the type of player he is.

I almost completely forgot about Charles Tapper. That's because he has been sidelined with a back injury that we have just found out was more serious than believed. Supposedly he has a small fracture that he's lived with for a while now.

Who knows when or if he will be available?

It's no secret that the Cowboys need depth at DE. That's why it was a little surprising they didn't bring in anybody through waivers.

My solution: If you been paying attention, I freed up two, possibly three roster spots by releasing Rod Smith, Keith Smith, and possibly JJ Wilcox.

I would use those three roster spots to bring in some defensive end depth by poaching Tyrone Holmes from the Cleveland Browns practice squad and sign veteran free agent Ryan Davis. That would give the Cowboys a young developmental player in Holmes and a veteran DE in Davis.

I know that would personally make me feel a lot better about the depth at defensive end.

Do you agree or disagree?

Please feel free to use the comment section below to share your thoughts and opinions on this topic.



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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8 Comments
  • Ethan Chazin

    Supposedly Wilcox is a ST player and Bisaccia may have lobbied to keep him. the 2 FBs serve other roles as ST players, pitch in LB and possible pass catching RB? I am not sold on this flawed logic, and it now confirms my worst assumptions of this ownership and coaching staff. They don’t get it after 20 years of failure. No wonder Bill Parcells walked away.

    • https://insidethestar.com/ Bryson Treece

      Well, to be fair, Bill Parcells hasn’t coached since. But yeah, I generally agree.

    • Brian Martin

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment Ethan. I tend to agree with what you said about the fullbacks. I understand that they serve other roles, but I just think there were probably better ways to use those roster spots. The defense is so thin at defensive end it’s ridiculous. Geoff Swaim played TE/FB in college at UT and I think he could serve the same type of role with the Cowboys. Then you can find some defensive ends that can contribute on special teams and add much-needed depth at the position.

  • Dru

    Def agree. For some reason always wanted to hold onto Wilcox..I’m over that now. Put swaim in the h back role until Hanna returns. I think Hanna has the perfect skill set and size to fit that role. Would love to add those two def ends.

    • Brian Martin

      Thanks for commenting Dru. I really think those roster moves provide better depth from top to bottom on the roster. The Cowboys are dangerously thin at the DE position. They can’t afford to have anybody get injured. And I love the idea of using Swaim as a TE/FB. He filled that role in college at UT and did a pretty good job.

  • Victor Dowell

    Cowboys need 2 bring in a stud at DE,putting presure on the opposing team is a major concern,bite the bullet Jerry Jones bring back Greg Hardy,you can get him on the cheap.”Defense Win Champonships”,Take a page from Jimmy Johnson,as long as you can sack the quarterback,winning will my the haters silient.LoveThemCowboys.

    • Brian Martin

      Victor, there is a reason why Greg Hardy is still unemployed. I think there was a lot more going on behind the scenes then we realized last year with the Cowboys. I think he pretty much burned all of his bridges with the organization and maybe with the rest of the NFL as well. I know it’s kind of hard for us fans to accept, but even though Greg Hardy would immediately improve the pass rush, I think I can say with 100% certainty he will never wear a star on his helmet again.

  • Kevin Cochran

    I agree 100% they need more help on defense very uncomfortable about this first game I also propose putting Gathers at defensive end

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Despite Late Push as Rookie, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See Field in 2018?

Sean Martin

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Despite Late Push in Year One, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See the Field in 2018? 1
(Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports)

It feels like ages ago that the Dallas Cowboys spent the 28th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft on Michigan Defensive End Taco Charlton. Perhaps this is a result of the constant distancing fans have made from this unpopular pick, or the corresponding moves the Cowboys have made at DE since drafting Charlton.

These moves include using the franchise tag on DeMarcus Lawrence after seeing him explode for 14.5 sacks, spending a fourth round pick this year on Kansas' Dorance Armstrong, and seeing Randy Gregory reinstated in time for training camp.

Across the entirety of the Cowboys roster, there will be plenty of "odd men out" that miss the cut down to 53 players. Defensive end remains one of the most cluttered spots on the current 90 man roster however.

Despite Late Push as Rookie, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See Field in 2018?

Dallas Cowboys DE Taco Charlton, DT Maliek Collins (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News)

Prior to establishing the depth the Cowboys now have up front on defense, they did Taco no favors by starting his career at right defensive end. While Gregory may still be a long way from earning the starting role here, similarly styled players like Armstrong have the edge here over Charlton.

This relegates Charlton to the strong side, where he always projected best out of college. By the time the Cowboys realized this a season ago, they also knew a franchise pass rusher was playing his way into the team's long-term plans.

Lawrence's stellar consistency off the edge reduced Charlton's role in the Cowboys rotation of pass rushers. An ideal spot for the rookie to develop with less pressure on him, Charlton's opportunities to continue playing left end may only be reduced this season.

The first-round pick is capable of kicking inside at defensive tackle, a position the Cowboys could certainly use help at. However, asking Charlton to go through another position shift would only halt the progress that took quite a bit of patience from Dallas to see.

It's far from unheard of for the Cowboys to do this with their young players, but for now Charlton remains a defensive end looking to make his impact. The Cowboys are in much better position now than they were at this time a year ago when it comes to setting expectations for him to do so.

Given everything he showed on tape at Michigan as well as in his pre-draft interviews, Charlton is a player that needs to succeed at the task at hand. When this plan is altered, the 6'6" pass rusher is much less effective -- without even considering any athletic struggles that Charlton has compared to other prototypes at defensive end.

As a unit, the Cowboys defensive line has all the pieces to be very effective this season. Taco Charlton is a piece to this puzzle, a backup left end that must find a way to flourish in this role.

For most former 28th overall picks, doing so would be considered a fall from grace. For the Cowboys, it's simply an example of strong roster building that's forced life to come at Charlton quickly. How he responds with a full season under his belt will make or break the hype this deep Cowboys defensive line has garnered, lead of course by the starter at Charlton's position in DeMarcus Lawrence.

Tell us what you think about "Despite Late Push as Rookie, Will Taco Charlton Struggle to See Field in 2018?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys OT La’el Collins Could Become Major Bargain

Jess Haynie

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La'el Collins

When you talk Cowboys offensive line, you always think of Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin first. Right Tackle La'el Collins still has to prove he belongs in the same sentence with his elite teammates. If he does that in 2018, Collins could become one of the best bargains on the roster.

Making the move from left guard to right tackle last year, Collins improved with time and was playing his best football at the end of the year. This was despite ongoing back issues that had him on the injury report most weeks.

La'el started all 16 games at right tackle and did enough that the Cowboys committed to keeping him there in 2018, even despite a big hole back at left guard. They are hoping consistency and stability will allow Collins to really blossom this season, building on the strong progress shown last year.

For 2018, Collins has a $5.76 million cap hit. According to Spotrac, that makes him the 13th-most expensive right tackle in the NFL this year.

That middle-of-the-pack expense is consistent with where La'el currently rates among NFL right tackles. Bleacher Report ranked Collins as the 16th-best RT in football last year.

But that ranking was based on the season as a whole. If La'el plays all of 2018 the way he was playing towards the end of last year, he will have emerged as one of the better right tackles in the game.

La'el Collins' Position Flex Could Come in Handy for Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys OT La'el Collins

If Collins develops as we hope, that salary suddenly becomes a major bargain. The most expensive right tackles in the NFL are making $7-$9 million this season.

But this can go a couple of ways. With his 2019 cap hit rising to $7.9 million, La'el needs to next step forward.

If Collins were to struggle this year, it could make him a potential cap casualty next offseason. Dallas can save $6.5 million in cap space if Collins is released or traded in 2019.

Dallas could elect to give Connor Williams, their second-round pick this year, a look at right tackle next season. It's the position he played in college.

They could also consider veteran backup Cameron Fleming, who will still be just 26-year-old. Fleming has two Super Bowl rings and several starts, including in the postseason, from his time with the Patriots.

While we think of La'el Collins as a first-round talent, it's important to remember that he was ultimately an undrafted free agent. Dallas did not have to invest anything to acquire him, and ultimately that makes it easier to let him go.

Naturally, we prefer the other side of this coin. If Collins builds on 2017, he will join the upper echelon of right tackles in the league. And if the Cowboys' offensive line isn't already the best in the NFL, that would only cement them as the best unit in football.

If La'el makes the leap, it could mean huge things for the Cowboys' offense and team success this year.



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Dallas Cowboys

How Cowboys Could Benefit From Randy Gregory’s Suspension

Brian Martin

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Cowboys Headlines - Randy Gregory Withdraws Suspension Appeal, Cannot Return Until Week 15

Randy Gregory is back! His suspension is officially over and he will be able to join the Dallas Cowboys in Oxnard, California when training camp gets underway less than a week from now.

Speculation has already started as to what this could mean for the Dallas Cowboys defense this season, and shockingly expectations are rather high for a player who hasn't stepped foot on the field in over a year. But, that's not what I want to talk about today. Today I want to focus on Gregory's mess of a contract, because it is rather interesting.

Randy Gregory was signed to a four-year contract after being drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the second-round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Gregory's rookie deal was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2018 season, but his multiple suspensions have now changed that expiration date.

You see, Gregory has only played in a total of 14 games in his career, 12 as a rookie and two in Year 2. His third year in the NFL was completely wiped out due to his year-long suspension. If you were to add that all up, it equates to just one accured season in the NFL. Remember that, because it could have a huge impact on his contract down the road.

Randy Gregory

Dallas Cowboys DE Randy Gregory

What all of this means is that the Cowboys can pretty much stretch out Gregory's contract now that they are three years in on the deal and have only gotten one accured season out of the agreement. That basically means they can push his contract back a year, meaning his 2017 salary ($731,813) gets pushed back to 2018, his 2018 salary ($955,217) gets pushed to 2019. That would essentially make him a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) in 2020.

Or does it?

Depending on how the Dallas Cowboys handled paying Randy Gregory during his suspension could actually make him an Exclusive Rights Free Agent (EFA). This is a similar situation in which David Irving found himself in after the 2017 season. The Cowboys placed a second-round tender on him in order to secure his services for another season, albeit at a $2.91 million price tag.

As you can see, the Dallas Cowboys pretty much hold all the cards when it comes to Randy Gregory's contract situation. It's all a little confusing, but that's what makes it such a unique and interesting situation.

Of course, the Cowboys could decide to extend Gregory early if he completely dominates upon his return this season. It's highly doubtful though considering his past suspensions, but still technically a possibility. If it does happen, you can go ahead and ignore everything I've written previously.



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