These Cowboys players won't make the 53-man roster in 2024

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New York Jets v Dallas Cowboys / Richard Rodriguez/GettyImages

The Dallas Cowboys 53-man roster isn't in a great spot right now. Luckily there's still the NFL Draft, free agency and the post-June 1 cuts market -- which Mike McCarthy hinted Dallas will be involved in -- to add more talent.

As of this writing, the Cowboys have lost five starters to free agency or retirement: Tyron Smith, Tyler Biadasz, Tony Pollard, Johnathan Hankins and Leighton Vander Esch. That number could grow to six assuming Stephon Gilmore isn't re-signed. Dorance Armstrong is another notable loss given the role he had on defense and special teams.

The current state of the team could open opportunities for fringe roster plays to make the 53-man roster after preseason. With the Cowboys guaranteed to make at least 10 more additions via the draft, free agency and the undrafted free agent market, it's tough to envision these players making the final roster in August.

These Cowboys on the 53-man roster likely won't last until the 2024 season:

WR David Durden

David Durden was part of Dallas' lauded 2023 undrafted free agent class. The West Florida product put together an impressive offseason program, but any hopes he had of contributing ended when he tore his ACL in preseason.

Durden showed enough to sign to the practice squad, so he'll compete for a roster spot once again during training camp. Even though the Cowboys released Michael Gallup, there still isn't a feasible path to the 53 for Durden.

CeeDee Lamb, Brandin Cooks, Jalen Tolbert and KaVontae Turpin are roster locks. 2023 seventh-round pick Jalen Brooks even made the 53-man roster last year. Brooks impressed in limited opportunities, and Durden also has to fend of the forgotten Martavis Bryant and other impressive former UDFAs Jalen Cropper and Racey McMath.

DE Durrell Johnson

The Cowboys' edge rusher depth took a big hit in free agency. Both Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler followed Dan Quinn to Washington. Between Armstrong and Fowler, Dallas needs to replace over 700 snaps from last season alone. Sam Williams, Chauncey Golston and 2023 fourth-round pick Vlliami Fehoko will seemingly be first in line in that regard.

Signed as a priority free agent after the 2023 draft, Durrell Johnson had an impressive career at Liberty, but he has to compete with the aforementioned names and fellow 2023 UDFA Tyrus Wheat for a roster spot. That list doesn't include a potential 2024 draft pick and free-agent signing.

The Cowboys are a firm believer in the draft-and-develop philosophy, but there's little chance Mike Zimmer is content with his current crop of EDGEs. That's bad news for Johnson.

S Sheldrick Redwine

Redwine actually has the most NFL experience of this group of players. A former fourth-round pick of the Browns in 2019, Redwine's recorded 77 tackles, one interception and three passes defended in 34 career games.

The 27-year-old spent almost the entirety of the 2023 season on Dallas' practice squad. He received one elevation and played 19 total snaps (7 defense, 12 special teams). Unfortunately for Redwine, the Cowboys are stacked at safety.

Even with Jayron Kearse likely not returning, Donovan Wilson, Malik Hooker, Markquese Bell, Juanyeh Thomas and Israel Mukuamu will all make the 53. Bell could see more snaps at linebacker and Mukuamu might see time as a slot cornerback, but that doesn't give Redwine any more hope of making the team.

TE Princeton Fant

Princeton Fant is good for a handful of highlight-reel plays in training camp. A former priority free agent signing, Fant didn't make the 53-man roster last year and seems headed for a similar fate in 2024 barring injury.

The Cowboys clearly value Fant, though. He was swiftly signed to the practice squad after final roster cuts in August. He received two elevations and played 30 snaps on special teams. After the season, Fant was signed to a future/reserve contract, which gives him a chance to compete for a spot on the team.

However, with Jake Ferguson, Luke Schoonmaker, John Stephens Jr., Peyton Hendershot and the versatile Sean McKeon all ahead of him in the pecking order, Fant will need to play out of his mind during training camp as well as multiple injuries to sniff the 53.

RB Deuce Vaughn

Cowboys fans will hate to see Deuce Vaughn not to make the 53-man roster, but he faces an uphill climb to make the cut. As currently constituted, Vaughn is probably RB2 on the depth chart behind Rico Dowlde, who's back in Dallas on a one-year deal. However, it's widely expected the team will add more backfield help between now and the start of training camp.

Free agents Ezekiel Elliott, Dalvin Cook and J.K. Dobbins have been linked with the Cowboys. Assuming they sign one of them and draft a running back in April, that would leave Vaughn as the fourth option. He could fall lower in the pecking order if Dallas chooses to keep 2023 undrafted free agent Hunter Luepke, who was used sparsely on offense but played 61% of the special teams snaps.

Vaughn shined in 2023 preseason, but averaged a measly 1.7 yards per carry during the regular season and was lousy in pass protection.

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