Dallas Cowboys: What you need to know regarding 53-man roster

Executive Vice President of the Dallas Cowboys Stephen Jones (L) (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
Executive Vice President of the Dallas Cowboys Stephen Jones (L) (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys have cut their roster down to the mandated 53 players but there is so much more to do before the final roster is set.

Whether you are surprised by any cuts or predicted most of the roster the Dallas Cowboys had to make by the time Tuesday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline rolled around, we as fans have to pump the brakes as more changes are likely to follow.

First, the Cowboys have the 10th pick in any waiver-wire claim just like the original 2021 NFL Draft order. Unlike other sports, the first claim stays the first claim. That means if the Jacksonville Jaguars, who hold the first waiver claim, want multiple players, they will get them as they are stuck with that claim order until after the deadline has passed.

Second, waiver claims cannot start until Sept. 1. The deadline for any waiver claims ends at 4 p.m ET on the same day. After all of the waiver claims have been processed, that is when teams can start and build their practice squads.

Now that the dates and times are out of the way, we can look at what can possibly happen tomorrow.

Dallas Cowboys 53-man roster takeaways

Dallas has a 53-man roster but there were some loopholes that the team took advantage of.

First, the Cowboys did not have to cut anyone that is currently on the reserve/COVID list, which will allow the team to carry some players on this team without exposing them to waivers.

That means Dallas can move players to multiple platforms to create roster spots. This will allow the team to bring back players such as released long-snapper Jake McQuaide or hypothetically any released players that are vested veterans.

Waiver claims and veteran releases are going to be a team’s primary way of constructing the bottom half of their roster. The team also has to make room for those aforementioned players who are still on the reserve/COVID list.

For once, the COVID list has done some good. Dallas can now safely place players such as Neville Gallimore, Josh Ball, Francis Bernard, and Sean McKeon on injured reserve. Once they are placed on injured reserve, they are lost for three weeks. Injured reserve rules were adjusted last season because of COVID-19, and I hope that the new rule tweaks stay for good. There is no limit on how many players can return from IR.

There is a possibility rookie cornerback Kelvin Joseph could start off there as well after injuring himself against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Wideout Malik Turner and rookie defensive lineman Chauncey Gholston are also candidates to join those players on injured reserve also.

The Cowboys removing Gholston from the physically unable-to-perform (PUP) list is a sign Gholston doesn’t need the full six weeks to be ready. Keeping him on the PUP list would have kept him out for at least the first six weeks of the season. But, more importantly, it would have freed up another roster spot.

If Dallas does indeed move those seven players to IR, that means the team can activate those who are on the reserve/COVID list.

Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb headlines the list of five players who are currently on the reserve/COVID list.

Defensive tackle Carlos Watkins, wide receiver Noah Brown, guard Connor Williams, and safety Damonte Kazee should be placed on the active roster. I would expect long-snapper Jake McQuaide is another candidate to be brought back to the team considering he was the only snapper the Dallas Cowboys have on their roster.

That leaves one roster spot available for a waiver-wire claim, free-agent addition, or through trade.

Players like Bradlee Anae and Brandon Knight have been the subject of trade rumors so that could open up more spots but my current expectation is the Dallas Cowboys will not make as many moves as some might hope.

There is so much work and hope that is left before the Cowboys can finalize their 53-man roster.

Next. 3 Cowboys roster issues and their level of concern. dark