FRISCO, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys made 22 moves on Saturday, trimming their roster to the NFL-mandated 53 players. Here's a closer look:
Most significant move: According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Cowboys will sign Mark Sanchez, who was among the Denver Broncos' final cuts. That answers one quarterback question, as Sanchez can eventually be the backup to Dak Prescott. But two questions remain: Will Tony Romo stay on the active roster or will he be placed on injured reserve? Will Jameill Showers at least remain for opening week? Dallas had to keep Romo on the active roster through Saturday for him to be eligible to return this season if the Cowboys move him to IR. While Sanchez has experience, he does not have experience in the Cowboys' system, so keeping Showers at least for the opening week makes some sense.
Most significant non-move: The Cowboys did not release any big names or make any truly surprising cuts. Tight end Gavin Escobar and safety J.J. Wilcox have made the initial 53-man roster, but that doesn't mean they have made the Week 1 roster. The Cowboys kept only eight defensive linemen and only three are pure defensive ends: Benson Mayowa, David Irving and Charles Tapper, a rookie who did not see a preseason snap because of a back injury. It also means Jack Crawford, more of a tackle by trade, will be their starter at left defensive end and linebacker Kyle Wilber could be more of a defensive end early in the season. It's not so much who the Cowboys cut (Ryan Russell, Mike McAdoo). It's that the Cowboys will have defensive end at the top of their wish list in the waiver-wire process or trade. The Cowboys have to do something. Of course, this has been said since March when free agency began, through the draft, through the offseason program and now through the preseason.
Heavy at fullback: If you want to include fullbacks, the Cowboys kept six running backs on the 53-man roster. It speaks to the pull special-teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia has in determining the final few spots that Keith Smith and Rod Smith made it. While the Cowboys will want to run the ball, there is no need to keep two fullbacks. The Cowboys will run a lot of three-wide-receiver sets and two-tight-end sets with Ezekiel Elliott and Alfred Morris. They will mix in Lance Dunbar, too. Both Smiths can be core special-teamers and play multiple positions, but it just seems to be overkill for a position a lot of teams are phasing out of their offenses.
Staying around: DeMarcus Lawrence's four-game suspension has begun but he will allowed around the team during this time, per teams of the substance abuse policy. Lawrence's absence is a major blow to a defensive line that needs a lot of help. He led the Cowboys in sacks last year with eight. While he will not be able to practice, Lawrence said he will be around to help his fellow pass-rushers as much as possible in meetings. Lawrence is eligible to return to practice Oct. 3 and play Oct. 9 against the Cincinnati Bengals. Defensive end Randy Gregory and linebacker Rolando McClain will remain on the reserve/did not report list. The games they miss will count toward their suspensions, but neither is expected to play for the Cowboys this season.
Cowboys moves: DE DeMarcus Lawrence (reserve/suspended), RB Darren McFadden (reserve/non-football injury), LB Derek Akunne, C Jake Brendel, DT Rodney Coe, S Isaiah Frey, TE Rico Gathers, LB Brandon Hepburn, QB Jerrod Johnson, WR Andy Jones, LB Deon King, OT Ryan Mack, WR Vince Mayle, DE Mike McAdoo (waived/injured), DT Lawrence Okoye, CB Deji Olatoye, DE Ryan Russell, OG Boston Stiverson, WR Devin Street, TE Austin Traylor, P Matt Wile, OT Bryan Witzmann.