With such stiff competition on the receiver corps, will wide out Brice Butler be the odd man out when the Dallas Cowboys cut down their roster to 53?
With Dallas Cowboys‘ training camp right around the corner, one of the biggest battles is projected to be at the wide receiver position. During the Cowboys’ defensive heavy draft in April, in which Dallas used seven of their nine draft picks on defenders, the two lone offensive selections were both wide receivers.
Last season, the Cowboys kept only five receivers on their active 53-man roster. Those players being Dez Bryant, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Brice Butler and Lucky Whitehead. All five are still on the roster entering training camp, with both Williams and Butler signing extensions in the offseason.
Now, you throw in rookie Ryan Switzer and Noah Brown into the group. And a hungry Andy Jones, who spent last season on the practice squad. Then you throw relative unknowns into the mix like Uzoma Nwachukwu, Brian Brown and Lance Lenoir and what you have is the most competitive position on the roster.
With the Cowboys trying to fill voids along their offensive line due to the exodus of right tackle Doug Free and left guard Ronald Leary, plus the emerging play of tight end Rico Gathers, it seems more and more unlikely Dallas will go with more than five wide receivers on their active roster again this season.
That could be a big issue come cut down day. The Cowboys coaching staff will have to make some big decisions. At this point, barring any injuries, Bryant, Beasley, Williams and likely Switzer have to be considered locks to make Dallas’ final roster.
In that scenario, it would potentially leave seven receivers all vying for one, single roster spot. And the player who could ultimately end up being the odd man out is Butler.
"“When Butler re-signed with the Cowboys, it looked like he had a chance to be a starter opposite Dez Bryant. But Terrance Williams surprisingly re-signed, and then the team drafted Ryan Switzer and Noah Brown,” wrote Todd Archer on ESPN.com. “The Cowboys guaranteed Butler only $300,000 on his one-year deal. If they like what Brown or a young player such as Andy Jones is doing in camp, then Butler, who had 16 catches for 219 yards and three touchdowns last season, could be on the outside looking in.”"
In only his second season in Dallas, Butler continued to struggle with inconsistency in 2016. One minute he’s catching a touchdown pass. And the next he’s dropping a ball or committing a boneheaded penalty. It is the same exact issue of potential versus production the Cowboys struggled with Butler’s predecessor for years, Devin Street.
At 6-3, 220 pounds, Butler has the ideal frame to be a red-zone threat and a ready back-up for Bryant. He also possess sub 4.3 speed, making him a potential deep threat as well. But dropped passes, poor route-running and decision-making continue to plague the veteran going into his sixth season as a professional. He is no rookie.
Brice Butler’s entire career has been about potential. At 27 years of age, the time is now for that potential to turn into regular season production. Butler figures to be in a battle for his job when training camp kicks off later this month. And that makes the wide receiver corps one to closely watch for the next couple of months.