The Cowboys will go light on Linebackers in favor of keeping more defensive backs and defensive lineman. Also, if McClain comes on strong, he may replace Durant at the MIKE linebacker, allowing Durant (a former 2nd round pick in his own right) to slide over and replace former 2nd round pick Bruce Carter at the WILL linebacker spot. But I think the Cowboys will put 2 linebackers on their Practice Squad in case of injury to one of their top 6 players.
Matt Johnson gets a roster spot based on the coaches’ opinion of his talent, but he is on very thin ice. Ahmad Dixon is waiting on the Practice Squad to replace him. Also, his roster spot is shaky due to all the defensive players the Cowboys have who will start the year on Reserve Lists, but will return some time later in the season. Johnson gets a spot primarily because there aren’t more talented linebackers and linemen on the team. If he wants to keep his roster spot, he’s going to have to move ahead of Hamilton on the depth chart before the beginning of October.
Claiborne wins the starting RCB position by default due to Scandrick’s 4-game suspension. And I believe the Cowboys go heavy at cornerback. B.W. Webb is in danger of being cut once Scandrick returns from his suspension. The Cowboys traded for Green, but his roster spot is not secure. And Mitchell is still eligible for the Practice Squad. Moore starts the year as the 3rd CB, and will stick with the team due to his versatility.
A couple of late off-season free agents, Ken Boatright and Zach Minter have made a case to make the team at the Defensive End positions, and former 3rd round draft pick Martez Wilson has been disappointing. But both of those players are really stop-gap solutions. The Cowboys will be looking forward to replacing both of them with Anthony Spencer and DeMarcus Lawrence when they return later in the season.
If former TOP 10 pick Amobi Okoye can regain his football conditioning after his devastating illness, look for Nick Hayden or Ken Bishop to be on the chopping block. Bishop is still eligible for the Practice Squad, but Hayden could be traded or cut if Okoye returns.
With so many defensive players on the reserve lists, I believe the Practice Squad will be imbalanced in favor of the offensive players. The Cowboys will want to keep some players in reserve in case of injury to the front-line offensive players. Also, my opening day 53-man squad is already tilted toward the defense, so the Cowboys will need to keep more offensive reserves on the Practice Squad.
There is guaranteed to be a lot of continuing churn in the roster, so don’t get too attached to the borderline players. The key for a lot of the borderline players will be how well they contribute to special teams, so keep an eye on those players on the kicking and coverage units. Having said all that, here is my initial 53-man roster.
Offense – 23 players
• QB – Tony Romo, Brandon Weeden
• RB – DeMarco Murray, Lance Dunbar, Joseph Randle, Ryan Williams
• TE – Jason Witten, James Hanna
• TE - Gavin Escobar
• WR1 – Dez Bryant, Cole Beasley, Devin Street
• WR2 – Terrance Williams, Dwayne Harris
• LOT – Tyron Smith, Jermey Parnell
• LOG – Ron Leary, Mackenzy Bernadeau
• OC – Travis Frederick
• ROG – Zack Martin, Uche Nwaneri
• ROT – Doug Free, Darrion Weems
Defense – 27 players
• LCB – Brandon Carr, Sterling Moore, Terrance Mitchell
• RCB – Morris Claiborne, Justin Green, B.W. Webb
• FS – Barry Church, Jakar Hamilton, Matt Johnson
• SS – J.J. Wilcox, Jeff Heath
• WLB – Bruce Carter, Anthony Hitchens
• MLB – Justin Durant, Rolando McClain
• SLB – Kyle Wilbur, Ernie Sims
• LDE – George Selvie, Tyrone Crawford
• RDE – Jeremy Mincey, Zach Minter, Ken Boatright
• 3DT – Henry Melton, Davon Coleman
• 1DT – Terrell McClain, Nick Hayden, Ken Bishop
Special Teams – 3 players
• LS – L.P. Ladouceur
• PK – Dan Bailey
• P – Chris Jones
Author's Note: The Cardinals released Sims. But since he's played for the Cowboys the last two seasons, I think he is the logical short-term replacement for Holloman. Jones has said the Cowboys are in the market for a veteran to replace Holloman. I think Sims will be that guy.
The NFL has expanded the Practice Squad Roster to 10 players for the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Here are my predictions for the Cowboys' initial Practice Squad Members, which includes two of the Cowboys five 7th round draft picks from May. It also includes a backup Center, and a Fullback. If the Cowboys are able to trade Ryan Williams or Joseph Randle prior to the start of the season, then perhaps Copeland will make the 53 man squad, or perhaps the Cowboys will keep a 4th tight end. But for now, I expect Copeland to be on the Practice Squad. He just has not shown enough to make the team.
6 Offensive Players to Practice Squad
• FB - J.C. Copeland
• OG - Ronald Patrick
• QB - Dustin Vaughan
• TE - Asa Watson
• WR- Jamar Newsome
• WR – Chris Boyd
4 Defensive Players to Practice Squad
• SS – Ahmad Dixon
• LB – Cameron Lawrence
• LB – Will Smith
• DT – Dartwan Bush
The Cowboys will likely have 7 defensive players on some type of Reserve List to start the year. Of those 7 players, 4 will be eligible to return at some point in the year. Only Sean Lee, Chris Whaley and Ben Gardner are definitely out for the season. Scandrick can return after 4 weeks, which puts the roster spots of several cornerbacks in jeopardy.
Spencer must sit out the first 6 weeks on the PUP list, and Lawrence will have to sit out the first 8 weeks if the Cowboys choose to put him on IR. Okoye has started to practice, and since he is on the NFI list, he can return at any time once the Cowboys deem him healthy enough to play. As a result of the players who are eligible to return to the team, expect a lot of turnover from the opening day roster on defense as the season progresses.
1 Defensive Player on NFL Suspension List
• CB – Orlando Scandrick
1 Defensive Player on PUP List
• DE – Anthony Spencer
2 Defensive Players on Non-Football Injury/Illness (NFI) List
• DE – Chris Whaley
• DT – Amobi Okoye
3 Defensive Players on Injured Reserve
• LB – Sean Lee
• DE – Ben Gardner
• DE – DeMarcus Lawrence (eligible to return after 8 games)
Wildcard – Tyler Clutts could make the opening day roster if Scott Linehan insists on having a fullback on the team. One of the defensive players (most likely B.W. Webb or Matt Johnson) would likely be cut if that is the case. But in my opinion, neither Clutts, nor Copeland has played to the level necessary to make the team. However, Clutts is also known as a very good special teams player, which may sway the coaches’ decision when it comes to the final cuts.
Free Agent CB Orlando Scandrick Joining Washington Redskins
Just two days after being released by the Dallas Cowboys, cornerback Orlando Scandrick has found a new home in the nation's capitol. After 10 seasons in Dallas, Scandrick is signing with the rival Washington Redskins.
Redskins and Orlando Scandrick have agreed to a 2-year deal worth a max value of $10M, source said. From Dallas to a rival.
By joining Washington after leaving Dallas, Scandrick follows in the footsteps of many ex-Cowboys: Terrell McClain, Jason Hatcher, Stephen Bowen, and even Deion Sanders to name a few.
Last week, Orlando reportedly requested his release from Dallas. It was widely expected that he would be a salary cap casualty anyway, though, and especially with the young stockpile of cornerbacks the Cowboys currently have.
Dallas has three young corners they believe in with Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Anthony Brown. There is also talk that Byron Jones could be moving back to CB next year.
Scandrick, 31, will get to stay in the NFC East and now cover some of his former teammates. Give the reportedly salary, he should at least be the slot corner for Washington next year if not a starter.
Upgrading the Offensive Line Cowboys Top Offseason Priority?
Despite the displeasure by the majority of fans, the Dallas Cowboys continue to hold things close to the vest with their approach to free agency. It's definitely not the most popular approach and tends to drive fans crazy, but things could start heating up now that the free-agent market is starting to settle.
Looking from the outside in, we can only speculate as to which positions the Dallas Cowboys may prioritize in free agency and in the draft that matter. Earl Thomas and the safety position has been the most popular topic of discussion throughout the free agency process, but it looks as if the Cowboys are narrowing their focus on upgrading and adding depth to their offensive line.
This is just speculation of course, but it's based on the fact that the Cowboys are rumored to be bringing in free-agent offensive lineman Marcus Martin and Cameron Fleming. And on top of that, it was announced that two of the Dallas Cowboys 30 pre-draft visitors are also offensive lineman, Will Hernandez, who is popular among Cowboys fans already, and offensive tackle Kolton Miller.
I don't know about you, but it looks as if the Dallas Cowboys are certainly focused in on upgrading the offensive line. This absolutely makes sense after what they went through last season with the carousel at the left guard position and Tyron Smith's struggles to stay healthy.
More than anything, the Cowboys need OL depth heading into the 2018 season. There is only really one spot up for grabs at left guard, but the depth across the OL is absolutely depleted unless you want to rely on Chaz Green again.
This is where Marcus Martin and Cameron Fleming make a lot of sense. Marcus Martin has the versatility to play center and guard, and has done so already in his NFL career. He could compete for the starting LG position, but if nothing else, could replace Joe Looney as the backup C/OG.
Cameron Fleming could be the more important of the two free agents the Cowboys are rumored to be interested in. At the worst, Fleming would be an upgrade as the swing tackle, something he's done with the New England Patriots throughout his career. But, he could compete to become the starting right tackle, which would kick La'el Collins back inside to left guard.
That's all speculation right now, but the Dallas Cowboys would do what's best for the entire team in order to get the right starting five offensive lineman on the field.
The same can be said about rookies Will Hernandez and Kolton Miller. Hernandez would likely be a plug-and-play left guard if he ended up being the Dallas Cowboys first-round draft pick. That would keep the offensive line from shuffling and hopefully solidify the unit for years to come.
Kolton Miller on the other hand would be a lot like the Cameron Fleming situation mentioned above. He can probably tackle on the left or right side the NFL, although some draft analysts believe he will struggle as a LT at the next level.
Of course, there is no way of knowing how much interest the Dallas Cowboys have any of these players right now. But to me, it looks as if upgrading the offensive line is certainly one of their top priorities this offseason.
Is upgrading the OL the Dallas Cowboys top offseason priority?
Cowboys Free Agency: The Thin Line Between Frustration and Comprehension
For die-hard NFL fans, the free agency period is as fun as any other week in the regular season. It's always a fun experience knowing what team is interested in which player and who's visiting who. Heck, there are websites with "free agents trackers" for people who don't want to miss a single thing.
Seeing the huge contracts some players get and discussing whether it's well-deserved money or an overpaid salary provides football fans all around the league with fun football conversations in the middle of March.
This is a period in which, despite not being on the field, every NFL team is doing the same thing. Trying to get better. Which is exactly why most Dallas Cowboys fans are frustrated with how things have gone for their favorite team in this 2018 NFL offseason.
Right now, less than a week after the free agency period officially began, they're the only team left in the NFL that hasn't signed a single free agent.
Surprising? Not at all.
Whether we like it or not, we know how this team likes to operate. A quiet free agency isn't out of the ordinary for the Cowboys. For many years, the NFL Draft has been the priority for them, and they've done a good job at it.
At the end of the day, waiting for the first wave of free agents to pass is smart unless you're looking for a QB or have a huge amount of cap space. When you look at what players are getting, you realize most of them are overpaid. Sammy Watkins got a $48M three-year deal, when he hasn't really proved to be worth it.
I don't think Cowboys Nation would've liked to see the Jones family bring Watkins for that kind of money. Personally, I don't mind the Cowboys' front office letting those first expensive signings occur without them participating in them.
I mean, they've already made a splash, when you think about it. DeMarcus Lawrence was the biggest non-QB free agent of the year and they managed to keep him for at least next season. It's not exactly a free agent signing, but they are paying one of the NFL's best pass rushers more than $17M to wear the Star one more year.
Yes, the Cowboys' team-building philosophy is comprehensible. But when do fans like you and me stop understanding their offseason approach and get bothered by it? To me, that frustration came in the form of Tyrann Mathieu signing with the other NFL team in Texas.
If the Honey Badger had signed a super expensive contract, I'd be fine with the Cowboys passing on him. But Houston was able to get him for just seven million dollars on a one-year prove-it deal.
Mathieu is one of the best defensive talents in the league and will be just 26 years old when next season begins. Why didn't the Cowboys tried to land him, if safety is a position of need? I mean, we've been talking about a potential trade for Earl Thomas all year!
Were they hesitant just because the Honey Badger isn't your traditional safety? Are they so conservative that their reason to not go after him was he wasn't a scheme fit? When you're talking about a talent like his, I think you make things work to see him thrive along young and promising cornerbacks like Jourdan Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie.
The Cowboys can still look at Tier-2 free agents such as TE Eric Ebron or S Kenny Vaccaro over the following days. It could end up working for them, or it could end up just like Nolan Carroll's horrendous game versus the Broncos in week 2 of the 2017 NFL season and his $2M in dead money for this year.
When it comes to the Cowboys' approach to free agency, there's a very thin line between comprehension and frustration. Maybe, just maybe, they make us understand next season when we see results on the field.
For now though, it's tough to stay in the "comprehending" side of things.
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