IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys have roughly 24 hours to make their final cuts and reach the NFL's regular season limit of 53, though coach Jason Garrett said it shouldn't take that long.
"The preseason is behind us. We're cutting the team down today," Garrett said. "We'll practice again on Monday morning and we'll try to put some good days together."
The Cowboys currently have 75 players after finishing an 0-4 preseason with a 27-3 loss to Denver on Thursday night. All NFL teams are required to make those 22 cuts by 4 p.m. EST on Saturday afternoon, but it appeared Garrett and his coaching staff were already beginning that process early Friday.
"We're going to try to do it here as the day goes on," Garrett said. "If not, we'll catch up tomorrow but we're going to try and get it done today."
Of course, it's a bit more complicated than simply making cuts. Just as the Cowboys' eventual cuts are available to be signed by other teams, they can also look at recently-cut players from around the league. Last year, the team traded for Edgar Jones and Caesar Rayford during final cuts, among other moves.
"It's just an important part of the process. We've always said that the competition is among the guys who are on the team trying to make the roster but also with guys all around the league who may or may not be available to us," Garrett said.
Other factors play a role, as well. For instance, league rules specify that DeMarcus Lawrence must be on the final 53-man roster, but the Cowboys are free to move him to injured reserve with a designation to return once the cut deadline passes. Whether or not other injured players, like Anthony Spencer, wind up on the Week 1 roster will also determine cuts.
"This is a day when we're cutting from 75 to 53 and 31 other teams are doing the same thing," Garrett said. "So there will be a lot of good football players out there and our guys do a really good job
finding out about these guys and knowing about them and seeing if they fit."
When the dust settles, the Cowboys will also be free to fill out their 10-man practice squad – a two player increase from the former limit of eight players. It's likely the team will bring back a fair percentage of their roster cuts to fill out the squad, which is eligible for weekday practice but cannot dress for regular season games.
"It's a challenge as the year goes on guys get hurt. You get compromised on the practice field. You're asking guys to do some things, sometimes you're asking offensive guys to do some defense or vice versa," Garrett said. "It's better to have that, be able to function over the course of a 17 week season, maybe more than that is just a development of young players."