FRISCO, TX — Ahead of the coming matchup against the Detroit Lions, one head coach Mike McCarthy dubbed the "biggest challenge" of the season for the Dallas Cowboys, two transactions have been made in-house — involving Rashaan Evans and Matt Waletzko.
Evans has been waived by the club, and Waletzko has been activated from injured reserve to take his seat on the 53-man roster. The latter is now fully recovered from a shoulder injury that cost him the majority of the season, but returns to help add depth at offensive tackle.
As for Evans, he will be subject to waivers and can be claimed by any of the other 31 teams. If he is not, he becomes an unrestricted free agent and can sign wherever he chooses, which also leaves the door cracked for a possible reunion on Dallas' practice squad.
A two-time national champ out of the University of Alabama, Evans was signed following the loss of Leighton Vander Esch to a season-ending neck injury, and he joined the Cowboys having produced in 67 starts through his first five seasons, including posting career-high numbers in both combined tackles (159), solo tackles (86), pass break ups (4) and fumble recoveries in 2022.
In 2018, he and the Cowboys had an official visit heading into that year's NFL draft. The former First-Team All-American would later see the linebacker-needy Cowboys select, guess who, Vander Esch with the 19th-overall selection, leading to the Tennessee Titans taking Evans off of the board three picks later at 22nd-overall.
Five years later, Evans arrived in Dallas to help fill the void created by an injury to Vander Esch but, after ramping up and flashing a time or two, his impact wasn't consistently felt; and the Cowboys' loss to the Dolphins emphasized their higher priority of locating quality depth at the tackle position.
Enter Waletzko, a second-year lineman with a high ceiling but who has seen the first two seasons of his young career stalled by shoulder issues. He'll now get another shot at showing he can not only remain on the field, but that he can also realize his potential as well.
When asked about the move during Wednesday morning's press conference, head coach Mike McCarthy said that there will still be things to determine later in the week with Rashaan Evans – as he is subject to waivers and can be signed back to Dallas' practice squad if cleared.
"We'll answer that at the end of the week," McCarthy said. "I think that's important to be answered then. These are roster moves, and they're tough moves. It's a bit of a catch-22. We're a healthy football team, and we hope that it stays that way. But when you get down to this time of year, you start to project, particularly with young players, this is why you have to make tough decisions like this."
As for Waletzko, McCarthy is looking forward to seeing what he can bring to the field in his second season.
"We felt the depth with Wally would be beneficial," he said. "We feel Wally is ready to go. His time has been well spent in the weight room and training and I think the depth at the tackle position is important."