FRISCO, Texas –The NFL's deadline to trim the roster to 53 players is Saturday afternoon. By now, most of the tough decisions have been made, but there will probably be some last-second roster-churning taking place, here with the Cowboys and probably with every other team in the league.
The staff writers of DallasCowboys.com have chipped in with their gut feelings on the roster moves. The team of Bryan Broaddus, David Helman, Rob Phillips and Nick Eatman have weighed in with their general thoughts on what to expect come Saturday.
David Helman:We've spent six weeks talking about the guys on this roster, and for the most part we know what's about to happen. There are a handful of questions – J.J. Wilcox or Kavon Frazier? Austin Traylor, Rod Smith or Keith Smith? Or none of the above? How many running backs? But by and large, we can reasonably predict about 50 of the names on the final roster. What I wonder about is the guys who will join this team from elsewhere. Last season they traded for Christine Michael during cutdown weekend. Two years ago it was Lavar Edwards they added from Tennessee. It's a solid bet they look outside the organization for help this year, as well. This team needs an experienced quarterback to back up Dak Prescott while Tony Romo is injured. They could use an outside pass rusher in the worst way. I also think they might want another offensive tackle to provide some depth after Chaz Green. I could see as many as three new players joining the roster in the next few days as the Cowboys try to solidify their depth chart. Fringe guys like Jameill Showers and Ryan Russell are in for a long weekend, it looks like.
Bryan Broaddus: Look for Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones and Will McClay to be aggressive on this upcoming waiver wire especially while holding the 4th claiming spot. McClay has all of his scouts here with him at The Star in preparation to handle what this wire might bring. These scouts have spent training camp studying the various clubs around the league both through live looks at games as well as film study. This group will leave no stone unturned in order to add players to this roster regardless of the position. What will make their jobs easier, is they have Jason Garrett as the head coach. Garrett understands how this personnel game works and like Wade Phillips ahead of him – he will not fall in love with his current roster and will be more willing to add players. The hardest thing as a scout is to deal with a staff that doesn't want to make any changes to the roster and here they don't have that problem. Should be a good day of hunting for the Cowboys on Saturday going into Sunday.
Nick Eatman:If the Cowboys gave me the scissors to cut down this roster, I know there would be some draft picks on the floor when I got done. And this wasn't a plan, but after trimming down the roster for fun, I noticed about six draft picks over the last few years that weren't on the roster. For starters, I don't know why the Cowboys would keep Gavin Escobar. I applaud him for coming back like he did with an Achilles injury in December and I'm sure his mobility will only improve. But he's never going to be a great blocker and he's in the final year of his deal. I think the rookie Austin Traylor gives them a better option until James Hanna returns. I'm cutting a third-round pick in J.J. Wilcox for the same reason – last year of his deal and Kavon Frazier has more upside. My cuts would include Ryan Russell, Devin Street and Rico Gathers, although he should be back on the practice squad to help his development. As for the quarterback, I personally would keep Jameill Showers because he has flashed too many positive things in two years to simply cut ties with. I would keep Romo on the roster and Showers as the No. 2, but would continue to keep those veteran quarterbacks on speed dial.
Rob Phillips: No position has more stability than the Cowboys' offensive line featuring three All-Pros (Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, Zack Martin), a super-talented second-year guard (La'el Collins) and a steady veteran right tackle (Doug Free). But the depth, at least to me, doesn't seem settled yet. By my count, three backups seem likely to make the roster: Ronald Leary, who can play both guard spots; Joe Looney, the backup center with guard experience; and Chaz Green, the frontrunner to back up both tackle spots all camp. That's only eight linemen. Typically the Cowboys keep eight active on game day. Wouldn't surprise me if they monitored the waiver wire and looked at possibly adding more depth via free agency after final cuts. Are they convinced Green can be the swing tackle? He showed improvement throughout preseason, but remember, the Cowboys looked outside the roster for veteran help early last season and ultimately signed Charles Brown, who's now retired. The line does have some versatility knowing Martin and Collins played tackle in college and could move outside in a pinch, with Leary a proven starting-quality player at guard.