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Offseason | 2024

Cowboys get surprise roster exemption for Daxon


FRISCO, Texas – Immediately after the NFL Draft, the Cowboys signed rookie free agent Denzel Daxon (6-2, 304) in hopes of adding interior size to the defensive line.

To their surprise, they got something even more.

Very impressed by his attention to detail and ability to play double teams, the Cowboys were planning on signing Daxon as one of their undrafted rookies before realizing he now provides even more value.

Born and raised in Nassau, The Bahamas, Daxon joins the NFL's 2024 expansion for qualifying international players, similar to Isacc Alarcon, the offensive lineman from Mexico who spent three years on Cowboys practice squad and currently on the San Francisco 49ers 90-man roster.

Since Daxon qualifies as an international player, he does not count against the Cowboys 90-man roster and can be signed to the team's 16-man practice squad as a bonus 17th member. What a win-win for the Cowboys.

"He was officially on the roster as part of the 90 as a normal non-international guy, before Kane (Doyle-Durde, scouting assistant) called that out," says Will McClay, Cowboys VP of player personnel.

This means the Cowboys are eligible to have 91 players on the roster during the offseason and training camp.

"It's a great bonus for us, it's a great bonus for him because that extra practice squad spot gives us an opportunity to develop him, gives us an extra player, gives him an extra opportunity to make the roster too from a practice squad standpoint," McClay says.

Daxon did not start playing football until coming to the United States in 2016.

"Back in my home we didn't have the opportunity to play football in The Bahamas," Daxon said. "It was something I always wanted to do so."

Starting to excel at the sport after only playing two years of high school football, Daxon received offers from the University of Miami and Louisville but decided instead to sign on with Ohio University. He spent 4 years there, redshirting his first two seasons, then getting play time his last two seasons, but with meager stats, totaling 11 tackles and one sack.

But with one year of eligibility remaining, Daxon wanted a bigger chance to better his college career, and he certainly found it at the University of Illinois.

"It was a hard decision but, I did it with faith," Daxon said of his move. "It all worked out for me, I went to Illinois, had the best year of my college career."

That he did. In one season, Daxon played 12 games with 11 starts at nose tackle, recording 27 tackles, three or more tackles in seven games. He registered a career-high four tackles twice, against Nebraska and Northwestern. A product of his new environment. Daxon credits the resources at Illinois and his defensive line coach on his standout senior season where he more than doubled his career output.

"Coach Terrence Jamieson, he's probably the best coach I ever had, was under him for the year," Daxon said. "Through each game you could see the steady progression, because of him and his coaching, because of him, I made steady strides to be here today."

Now Daxon has made his way to The Star where the international exception player was in awe walking into the locker room on his first day.

In the history of the Cowboys there have been only a handful of International Players. However, Daxon, "Dax" as he likes to be called, is the first-ever Bahamian-born player to end up on the roster. In fact, there are only four other NFL players historically from The Bahamas, Mike Stachan, Devard Darling, Jocelyn Borgella, and Ed Smith.

And now comes Daxon, a Cowboy, heading to training camp this summer with the Cowboys after turning a few heads during OTAs and the recent minicamp.

"It's truly been a blessing," Daxon said. "I guess the first week I just locked in like I'm here. Let's make sure I stay in here."

And because of the international exception, Dax has a chance to at least remain with the Cowboys for up to three years while developing on the practice squad. That is, unless he makes the 53-man roster, which is the ultimate goal of any rookie, regardless of their situation.

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