The first important roster date this off season is August 27th. By 4pm EST that day, all NFL teams must cut down from their current 90 players to no more than 75 players. Of course, only four days later after the last round of preseason games, the teams must get down to the maximum regular season rosters of 53 players and can send as many as 8 eligible players to the practice squad.
SIDE NOTE: Only players that do not have an accrued season of free agency credit or who were on the active 46-player game day roster for less than 9 games during each of any accrued seasons are eligible for practice squad designation. Translation is that a player is only eligible if he hasn’t already been on the practice squad for 2 years and wasn’t on the active roster for more than 8 games total over that time. A player can be put on the practice squad a third year if the team maintains a regular roster of 53 players. If at any time, the roster falls below 53 players, the 3rd year player is automatically elevated to the regular roster.
So, having explained all that, here are my best guesses for the guys currently on the Cowboys roster whose NFL careers or dreams will be cut short this year (unless they are picked up by another team) or whose 2013 season is over.
- Tyrone Crawford, LB – Still technically on the roster but headed for Injured Reserve with a ruptured Achilles tendon. His season is done but his salary will still count against the team’s salary cap. They are however now allowed to replace him on the final 53 and still retain his rights.
- Alex Albright, LB – Unlike Crawford, the Cowboys waived Albright on Monday after revealing he will need back surgery. He needs to clear waivers and then can be put on IR. Unclear today whether he will ever be able to play again.
- Travis Chappelear, DT – waived Monday due to injury
- Toby Jackson, DE – waived Monday due to injury
- Colin Cochart, TE – crowded roster here and once again Cochart has not had any chance to distinguish himself.
- Andre Smith, TE – Cowboys will likely keep 4 TEs but it will be Witten, Hanna, Escobar, and Rosario in my opinion. Smith made some plays early in camp but seems to have disappeared now.
- Brett Maher, K – No surprise here, Dan Bailey has this locked down.
- Nick Stephens, QB – After last Saturday, is there any doubt where Stephens falls on the depth chart? The Cowboys will get one last look at Alex Tanney in the final preseason game and then decide whether to keep 2 or 3 quarterbacks, but Stephens days as a Cowboy are likely over.
- Danny Coale, WR – A crowded position on the roster and the Cowboys need to start making some decisions at this point. Despite being a 5th round draft pick, the oft-injured Coale just has not done anything to distinguish himself while others have made strides.
- Anthony Amos, WR – see Danny Coale minus the draft pick status.
- Jared Green, WR – talented gene pool (son of HOF CB Darrell Green), but just no spot for him on this active roster. Good candidate for the practice squad if the Cowboys can possibly stash him there.
- Demetress Bell, T – I think this experiment is over and his being in horrible shape coming in combined with the high level of play from Doug Free and Jermey Parnell’s return from injury, the need for Bell has evaporated.
- Edawn Coughman, T – Same situation as Bell. Parnell will most likely be the swing tackle on this roster and not sure we’ve seen enough from him to warrant a spot on the practice squad.
- Darrion Weems, T – See Edawn Coughman.
- Kendial Lawrence, RB – The Cowboys aren’t going to keep more than 3 or 4 running backs and Lawrence hasn’t earned one of those spots at this point. It will be Murray, Dunbar, Randle, and possibly Tanner (primarily because of special teams – but he is on the bubble too at this point).
So, that would get us to the required 75 players. Another 22 players will meet “The Turk” beyond this, but here are a few additional thoughts:
- The offensive line is a crowded spot on the roster right now, but I don’t think any guard gets cut until the team is forced to make a decision – they will want that final game to fully evaluate what they have.
- Plenty of candidates at WR as well. I could have listed Eric Rogers here who made a name for himself early on with his sure hands but seems to have disappeared a bit of late. I’ve heard that the Cowboys have every intention of trying to keep him under the radar so they can stash him on the practice squad. Don’t expect them to showcase him in any more preseason games.
- Cowboys have 6 safeties on the roster today – they kept 5 last year which means at least one needs to be cut. I can’t for the life of me understand what Matt Johnson has done to continue to swallow up a roster spot, but he likely makes the final 53. All the potential in the world doesn’t amount to anything if you can’t stay on the field. This guy can’t.
- The team has 10 LBs on the roster today. They kept 8 last year but that was in a 3-4 and included Spencer and Ware now listed as DEs. With Albright gone, I think the team will wait until the final cut down day to decide who if anyone sticks behind Lee, Carter, Durant, McSurdy, Sims, and Holloman and who goes to the practice squad.
- Of all of the 2013 draft picks, B.W. Webb appears to be the one in the most danger of not making the final roster. He could go to the practice squad as well.
Lots of roster decisions to be made to get to the final 53 but the core of this team is starting to take shape. Let’s hope that the “brain trust” makes the right decisions (see Danny Amendola). Go Cowboys!