My last installation of the Cowboys final 53 was a look of who makes the team without Special Teams consideration. This iteration takes a step back into reality. The first reality that should be considered is that the Cowboys will be taking a very hard look at the waiver wire when teams across the league make their final cuts.
The positions the Cowboys are likely looking to address - based on what we have seen so far in preseason, the injuries that have racked up, and of course, the impending suspension of Orlando Scandrick - are as follows: Full Back, Tight End, Defensive End, Linebacker, and Corner.
I would not be the least bit surprised to see a new face at any of these positions – if not all – when the final 53 is announced.
- Tony Romo
- Brandon Weeden
- Dustin Vaughan
With Scandrick not being considered a part of the 53 while serving his suspension, there is still room to carry Dustin. Once Scandrick is added back to the roster the Cowboys will have to decide who adds more value to the team as a whole; a 3rd QB or depth at Defensive End. Given Romo’s questionable back situation, it may be in the Cowboys best interest to ensure Weeden’s backup is already on the roster, as opposed to scraping the bottom of the barrel should the worst-case-scenario become reality.
One of the most talented groups of players on the team, some very difficult cuts will be made here. Jamar Newsome likely deserves a spot on this team, but it will be difficult for the Cowboys to keep more than 6 wide receivers, all things considered. An idea I have been kicking around that is plausible is the potential of a trade from this group to fortify another position to avoid having to gamble on the waiver wire if they can find a willing trade partner looking to do the same.
- Jason Witten
- Gavin Escobar
- James Hanna
If the Cowboys only keep 3 running backs and drop both fullbacks, this position will likely receive a blocking-type Tight End from the waiver wire.
- DeMarco Murray
- Lance Dunbar
- Ryan Williams
- Joseph Randle
Given the best 53 approach, the Cowboys may drop the full back idea all together in favor of keeping both Ryan Williams - the better runner - and Joseph Randle - the better Special Teams contributor. However, last-minute moves to the waiver wire could spell the end for one. It has long been my opinion that should Murray be injured, Lance Dunbar would still be the change of pace back and either Williams or Randle would take the lead back role. With that in mind, Williams has done more to win the coaching staffs confidence in being a workhorse, between-the-tackles type of runner. Randle has some shiftiness to his game and can find the hole, but he doesn’t have the same explosion as Williams.
- none / waiver wire
Tyler Clutts has disappointed thus far in establishing himself as a lead blocker coming out of the backfield. Having said that, Linehan wants a fullback in this offense, which is why if the Cowboys do keep one, it very well may be someone presently sitting on another team roster.
- Zack Martin
- Mackenzy Bernadeau
- Ronald Leary
- Uche Nwaneri
No changes at any position on the offensive line. If the Cowboys keep more than 8, then it's a battle between Darrion Weems and John Wetzel.
- DeMarcus Lawrence
- George Selvie
- Anthony Spencer
- Jeremy Mincey
- Tyrone Crawford
- Kenneth Boatright
With both Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Lawrence starting the season on the injury list, the Cowboys will definitely be watching the August 30th waiver wire with their fingers crossed to address the defensive line. Wilson was already cut, freeing up a spot for a new face come next week.
- Henry Melton
- Terrell McClain
- Davon Coleman
- Nick Hayden
Given the nod to start against the Dolphins, Davon Coleman may have already solidified his place in the rotation that Marinelli has planned to throw at opposing offenses. Zach Minter also saw some time in the first half, however, given the issues the Cowboys are having with injuries at defensive end, it's difficult to imagine the Cowboys keeping more than four Defensive Tackles.
- Rolando McClain
- Justin Durant
- Bruce Carter
- Anthony Hitchens
- Kyle Wilber
If the Cowboys are able to move a receiver, as opposed to cutting to avoid competing on the waiver wire, due to the loss of Holloman this is likely the position they will be looking to address. I doubt the Cowboys go with only five linebackers into the regular season; but in my opinion the 6th linebacker is not yet on the team.
- Brandon Carr
- Morris Claiborne
- Terrance Mitchell
- Sterling Moore
- Tyler Patmon
B.W. Webb is on the outside looking in. I have read different takes on his play from both sides of the spectrum in terms of his contributions, but he is not a player that can be trusted, particularly against the larger variety of receivers. Sterling Moore and Tyler Patmon are new additions to my final 53. Patmon makes it based on 1 part performance against the Dolphins and 2 parts necessity, considering Scandrick’s impending suspension and Morris Claiborne's inability to remain healthy. Justin Green did not standout in his performance against Miami, however, with corners that could be a good thing. It suggests that whomever he was shadowing was never open. For now, Sterling Moore gets the nod over Green due to his familiarity with the system. That could change come Thursday when both will be getting an extended look with the rest of the bottom of the roster players.
- Barry Church
- J. J. Wilcox
- Jakar Hamilton
- Ahmad Dixon
- Jeff Heath
Perhaps not as difficult as the running back or receiver quandary, safety will be a tough decision for the Cowboys coaching staff. It is possible the Cowboys keep the above five, which wouldn’t create too much of an issue. But given the Cowboys are still light at linebacker, this could be a cut that occurs following the final 53 to bring on a waiver wire prospect.
- Dan Bailey
- Chris Jones
- L.P. Ladouceur
Bailey and Ladouceur are still locks... that won't change any time soon. Chris Jones had a good showing against the Dolphins, but he still is not on the same level as the other Special Teams contributors.
Will DeMarcus Lawrence Be Franchise Tagged Again in 2019?
The deadline for extending players under the franchise tag has come and gone last Monday, in a day in which none of the remaining tagged players reached an agreement with their respective teams. That includes Dallas Cowboy Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence, who's set to earn $17M in 2018.
The front office and the 26-year old defensive end failed to agree to a new contract before the season's start, but we saw that coming. After all, there was never a point in which we had the classic "X player and his team are close to a new deal" headline.
All of this makes the future of the Cowboys' promising "War Daddy" very uncertain. What lies a head of the player that put on an impressive show in 2018?
Since 2017 was Lawrence's breakout year, racking up 14.5 sacks trough the season, we have leaned towards the narrative of last season being his only good one. His performance last season was impressive and clearly his best one yet, but we tend to overlook 2015.
In his sophomore season, the only other year in which he has played 16 games, he finished the campaign with eight sacks and 35 tackles (55 combined). Really, the idea of 2017 being his only good year is not as accurate as we might think.
That being said, I think it's more likely that we see another great year from him this upcoming season than seeing a disappointing one. This, of course, will end up being the main thing that determines his future in Dallas.
The Dallas Cowboys front office really took a risk by tagging Lawrence this offseason. #90 was reportedly asking for an average of $17M per year in his long-term contract, which is Olivier Vernon kind of money.
So what if he puts a similar season or an even better one? Lawrence and his agent could end up asking for even more money. Perhaps in the 18 or 20 million dollars per year range. If that ends up being the case, the team will find itself in a tough position when trying to reach an agreement with its promising pass rusher.
Which leads us to the possibility of seeing the Cowboys franchise tagging Lawrence for the second consecutive season. Dallas will already be negotiating a contract extension with QB Dak Prescott, and things will get complicated. Even more if they decide to pursue a big-time free agent in March, such as Earl Thomas.
It would make sense, from a financial perspective, to hand the tag twice in consecutive years to D-Law. However, it shouldn't be the priority. If he plays like he did in 2017, the front office will be more than wise to extend him for good.
According to OverTheCap.com, the Cowboys will have approximately $50.6M. Seemingly, the team's cap woes will be over soon.
Fortunately, Lawrence didn't become a headache by threatening to holdout for offseason programs and even training camp. However, don't expect that to happen if he finds himself under the tag next year.
Careers in the NFL are short, so DeMarcus will surely want to get paid. If he keeps it up, he'll deserve it. As much as he deserves it, though, football is a cold business. If the Jones need to tag him, they will.
Do you think the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence in 2019?
Without Looming Suspension, RB Ezekiel Elliott Should Shine In 2018
NFL Films typically does a good job of exposing some truths around NFL teams. Whether through "Hard Knocks" or Amazon's new "All or Nothing" series, these documentaries do an excellent job of giving fans an inside look of their favorite teams.
If anything was revealed through the Cowboys' All or Nothing series on their 2017 season, it's that Ezekiel Elliott's suspension weighed heavy on his mind all year.
The Pro Bowl running back did not look, act, or play like himself while awaiting decision on his incoming suspension. And, once it was finally announced he would serve the six games, the entire team collapsed in Atlanta.
Despite the clear and detrimental effects Elliott's suspension had on the Cowboys' season, Zeke still put up more-than-respectable numbers; rushing for almost 1,000 yards and averaging a league leading 98.3 yards per game.
Now, Ezekiel Elliott enters a season with no doubts about his own availability. Scott Linehan gets to coach an offense that knows they will have their best player for the entire season barring major injury. And, Jason Garrett can lead his team without addressing questions about Elliott's future day in and day out.
Of course, these effects aren't quantifiable. We can't sit here and say that without the pressure of court appearances and suspensions that Elliott will be worth "X" amount of more yards and "Y" more touchdowns.
But I do believe we can say, without question, that playing with a clear mind and without a looming suspension will breed the type of production we saw from Zeke his rookie year.
We can say that Elliott has had a weight lifted off his shoulders, and could be looking for revenge on a league he feels did him wrong.
And, for the Cowboys sake, I hope this is true. Because they are going to need Ezekiel Elliott to be even better than he ever has been if they hope to make a run at the Super Bowl in 2018.
Cowboys en Español: El Regreso de Randy Gregory
A sólo días de que los Dallas Cowboys aterricen en Oxnard, California para dar inicio a su training camp como todos los años, el equipo recibió excelentes noticias respecto a la selección de segunda ronda del 2015: Randy Gregory. Después de pasar todo el 2017 suspendido, el ala defensiva ha sido oficialmente reintegrado por la NFL.
Gregory, quien tuvo muchos problemas debido al uso de marihuana, ha pasado los últimos meses rehabilitándose para poder volver a vestir la estrella y volver al emparrillado. Los Cowboys, quienes siempre apoyaron a su joven jugador, sin duda estarán felices de verlo de vuelta en el equipo por motivos más allá que el football americano.
Sin duda alguna, antes de estar emocionados y felices por verlo en el campo intimidando a quarterbacks rivales, deberíamos estar alegres por el logro personal de Randy como un ser humano. Realmente hizo un esfuerzo consciente en un lugar en el que muchos se hubieran rendido y dejado sus sueños de ser parte de la NFL. Pero no lo hizo, y ahora, todos sus esfuerzos han valido la pena.
El siguiente paso en su lista por-hacer, es volver al campo y poco a poco, ganarse su puesto en el equipo y después, la titularidad. La última vez que vimos a Gregory en el campo, fue contra Philadelphia, en el final de temporada del 2016.
En este juego, Gregory mostró muchos destellos de lo que sería capaz de hacer semana tras semana en la liga y porque valió la pena nunca dejarlo ir, lo cual no hubiera tenido sentido hacer, dado que los Cowboys no les costaba nada (literalmente) mantenerlo en el equipo.
Sean Martin escribió un artículo recientemente en el que analiza este partido a fondo.
El potencial de Gregory es inmenso, suficiente incluso, para aventurarse a decir que se convertirá en el defensive end (ala defensiva) derecho antes de lo esperado. El reto más grande para el jugador de 25 años será regresar a una condición física óptima para la NFL.
Afortunadamente, a diferencia del 2016, Gregory no estará regresando a media temporada. Su llegada toma lugar justo a tiempo para el training camp, dándole tiempo para regresar a la forma en la que tiene que estar.
Una vez ahí, ¿qué tanto le tomará ganarse un rol más importante que el de Tyrone Crawford y Taco Charlton? A pesar de que prácticamente no lo hemos visto jugar en Dallas, sabemos el potencial que tiene para convertirse en un defensivo de suma importancia para los Cowboys.
Un año después de ver la mejor temporada en la carrera de DeMarcus Lawrence, los Cowboys tendrán el potencial de una estrella similar en el lado derecho de su línea defensiva. Gregory tiene una montaña que escalar para cumplir las expectativas de los aficionados, pero no será una sorpresa si lo logra.
Vaya, no olvidemos que si no fuera por sus problemas fuera del campo, hubiera sido seleccionado en el Top 10 del Draft del 2015. Tiene el potencial de conseguir diez sacks por temporada.
Con un poco de suerte, no nos equivocaremos en tenerle fe al jugador que ha tenido un gran viaje para llegar a este punto. El punto de ponerse el casco e ir a trabajar con su equipo.
Incluso si sólo llega a ser un jugador de rotación, sin duda será importante para el éxito del equipo. Entre DeMarcus Lawrence, David Irving, Randy Gregory y el resto del talento que los Cowboys tienen en la línea defensiva, el equipo podría tener un frente de muy buena calidad.
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