The Dallas Cowboys wrapped up their offseason program Thursday and will open training camp July 28 in Oxnard, California. Here’s a 53-man roster projection:
The Cowboys could look for a more veteran backup if Moore does not progress. Jameill Showers faces an uphill battle to stick simply because Prescott was a fourth-round pick.
McFadden’s broken elbow could keep him off the practice field for most of training camp and scuttles any potential trade possibilities. Rookie Darius Jackson, a sixth-round pick, has some skills that might be worth developing, so he could stick as well. Lance Dunbar will open the season on the physically-unable-to-perform list as he comes back from a knee injury.
FULLBACK (1): Rod Smith
Smith makes the team because the Cowboys are light at tailback, where he can fill in, and he can play every special-teams group. He is battling with Keith Smith for the fullback role and it is entirely possible the Cowboys don’t carry one on the 53-man roster going into the season.
I contemplated a sixth receiver (Andy Jones) here, especially with Williams and Butler set to be free agents after the season, but opted against it. Derek Dooley said the core of receivers is as strong as they’ve been since he’s been the coach, so five should be enough.
Where’s Rico Gathers? He simply has too far to go. I think he’ll be on the practice squad. Why keep four tight ends? Escobar, who deserves praise for his rehab from a torn Achilles, is entering the final year of his deal and Swaim can play multiple spots.
Leary could become trade bait as well, but the Cowboys won’t give him away. He’s a starter and if the Cowboys suffer an injury they would love to have Leary ready to go. I opted to go with Brown as the ninth linemen right now because Green still has a long way to go.
Randy Gregory is not listed because he will miss the first four games because of a suspension. DeMarcus Lawrence is not listed because he is facing the same penalty, but the NFL has not ruled on his appeal. This group is thin. I could see the Cowboys adding two or three players before the final cuts to bolster the group even if it would just be for the first month. Russell has the most to gain. If he can gain the coaches’ confidence, he could stick but I don’t think he enters camp as a lock even if he worked with the first team in the spring
Do I think the Cowboys are in lock-step with McClain? No. He could be a surprise cut, but I believe he is a Jerry Jones’ favorite. Nzeocha, who missed most of his rookie season with a knee injury, bears some watching this summer. He could be a big special-teamer and find himself playing multiple linebacker spots.
You might not like it but the top three are set. The fourth and fifth corner jobs are wide open. Brown is getting work inside and outside. Olatoye was a starter at the end of last season and has good size. Jeremiah McKinnon, an undrafted free agent, has a chance. So does veteran Josh Thomas. I don’t see them keeping six because in a pinch they could move Byron Jones to corner.
This might be my biggest surprise: no J.J. Wilcox. He is going into the last year of his deal and counting $1.8 million against the cap. Church is also entering the final year of his deal and will make $4.25 million this year. That’s a lot of money but his dependability gives him an edge. The Cowboys made a financial commitment to Heath, their best special-teamer. They drafted Frazier in the sixth round and like his athleticism. He has a future, while Wilcox looks like he would be gone after this season.
Same as it ever was.