The Dallas Cowboys caused a mini firestorm on social media on Wednesday when they waived linebacker Rashaan Evans. Evans was axed to make room for offensive tackle Matt Waletzko, who was activated off injured reserve and could play a role in the home stretch in light of Tyron Smith's back injury.
All told, Evans hadn't done much to warrant more playing time. In fact, he didn't see the field against the Dolphins on Sunday and has the lowest run-defense grade of any Cowboys linebacker. That tells you all you need to know.
Still, the move came as a shock given Dallas' lack of depth at the position.
Amid fans arguing about Evans' release, Aaron Wilson of NBC Houston cleared the air when he reported Evans was arrested for possession of marijuana. While other states around the country have scaled back marijuana-related punishments, Texas continues to punish marijuana violations gratingly.
Predicting the Cowboys next roster move after Rashaan Evans arrest, subsequent release
It was speculated Evans' release could've been a roster manipulation maneuver. The NFL allows players who are waived and cleared waivers to have their elevation counter reset. Evans had already reached the maximum of three practice squad elevations, but his arrest all but rules out a return to the practice squad.
With that in mind, look for practice squad linebacker Malik Jefferson to be active for Saturday's game against the Detroit Lions.
Evans admittedly set a low bar to clear, but Jefferson might be a superior option than the former first-round pick. Jefferson has stuck around with the Cowboys for the past two seasons and was enjoying a strong preseason before suffering a plantar fascia injury. He was released during final roster cuts, but was promptly signed back to the practice squad, where he's been all season.
The tricky thing with Jefferson is he's been elevated three times already this season, meaning the Cowboys would have to sign him to the active roster and waive another player to make room in order for him to play again.
Practice squad elevations reset once the playoffs start, but Dallas is currently three players deep at linebacker, including Micah Parsons. While Parsons was serviceable in limited LB reps against the Dolphins, he also logged eight pressures as an outright EDGE, all of which came in under 2.5 seconds.
Playing Parsons a handful of reps at LB can work, but even with that safety net the Cowboys are alarmingly thin at the position.
One way or another, though, it feels like Jefferson will be at the center of the Dallas' next flurry of roster moves.