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Keep, Trade or Cut Every Member of the Dallas Cowboys' Roster

Peter MatarazzoContributor IOctober 9, 2016

Keep, Trade or Cut Every Member of the Dallas Cowboys' Roster

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    The Dallas Cowboys are currently experiencing some uncomfortable times. Fresh off the disappointment of another 8-8 season, changes are already taking place among the coaching staff. Gone are running backs coach Skip Peete and outspoken defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

    Are more changes coming? Perhaps, but this is only the beginning of what should be a very interesting offseason for the Cowboys. Jerry Jones will be at the epicenter of every decision that is made as the Cowboys forge ahead to the 2013 season.

    So, while the first order of business appears to be the addressing of the coaching staff, bigger decisions loom regarding the roster. Issues concerning depth, free agency, performance and salary, along with coaching decisions, just might make this the busiest offseason for the Jones family.

    If the Cowboys are going to make a push and close the gap between mediocrity and becoming elite, then some of these imminent decisions will be crucial. In looking ahead to the makeup of the 2013 roster, it's time for the Cowboys to really make some hard assessments, evaluations and decisions.

    It's always fun to start speculating on the comings and goings of the current roster and that's what we will do for every single player on the roster. The criteria for each player is either to keep, trade or cut.

Quarterback

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    Tony Romo: It's hard to shake the image of Romo's last meaningful possession of the 2012 season but it's also hard to ignore what he's done for this team. Romo finished the season with 4,903 yards passing, 28 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. The debate right now is whether he signs an extension or plays out his contract. I'm sure people want to run him out of town but that won't happen. 

    Verdict: Keep

     

    Kyle Orton: Arguably the best backup in the NFL who's only cameo appearance came against the Chicago Bears. Keeping him is a no-brainer unless Jerry Jones looks for a salary dump.

    Verdict: Keep

Running Back

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    DeMarco Murray: Such a talented player, but he's had two seasons riddled with injury. Murray still represents the present and future of this running game. He will have to stay on the field for a full season if this offense is going to be successful.

    Verdict: Keep

     

    Felix Jones: Jones has been the epitome of disappointment after four seasons in Dallas and 2012 was no different. The Dallas Cowboys must let him walk in free agency and replace him with a more effective runner and weapon in this offense. 

    Verdict: Cut

     

    Phillip Tanner/Lance Dunbar: Individually or combined, both of these players should not be part of the equation in Dallas going forward. Tanner has shown zero development and Dunbar showed flashes, but not enough during Murray's absence when he really had an opportunity.

    Verdict: Cut 

     

    Lawrence Vickers: Vickers didn't make people forget about Tony Fiammetta, but he displayed enough ability in blocking and pass catching to warrant a return to Dallas.

    Verdict: Keep

Wide Receivers

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    Dez Bryant: Finally, a stud is born! Bryant had a monster year that was reminiscent of the Michael Irvin days while posting 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has finally come of age and simply dominated his opponent consistently. His overall maturity has allowed him to become one of the most important building blocks of this franchise.

    Verdict: Keep

     

    Miles Austin: Austin posted solid numbers in 2012 after an injury riddled 2011. He caught 66 passes for 943 yards and six touchdowns. It's clear that Bryant has emerged as the top target among the wideouts, but Austin can still be a valued receiver and target for Tony Romo. He will need to restructure his deal to stick around. The pressure to perform in 2013 will be even greater as Dwayne Harris is a budding star.

    Verdict: Keep

     

    Dwayne Harris: Harris' 78-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles solidified his future with this team and allowed fans to see him in a different light. He also started to make significant progress in the offense and 2013 should be a continuation of that.

    Verdict: Keep

     

    Kevin Ogletree: Ogletree started out the season with so much promise but finished as an inconsistent enigma. With the emergence of Harris, he now becomes expendable.

    Verdict: Cut

     

    Cole Beasley: Beasley started getting more involved in the offense towards the end of the season, but the Dallas Cowboys should expand his role in 2013. He can be a dangerous slot receiver that can work the short and intermediate passing game while posing a touch matchup.

    Verdict: Keep

     

    Danny Coale/Tim Benford: Coale was a disappointment as the Cowboys fifth-round as he battled injuries from day one and eventually tore his ACL. I still would like to see what he could do when healthy. Benford is interesting because he could challenge for the last receiver spot and he's worth bringing back for competition and to see how much he has learned.

    Verdict: Keep

Tight Ends

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    Jason Witten: Witten is the heart and soul of this team. His reputation, mental toughness, leadership and determination speak for themselves and he leads by example. In 2012, Witten posted 110 receptions, 1,039 yards and three touchdowns. This team needs 53 Jason Witten's.

    Verdict: Keep (And put him in the Ring of Honor)

     

    John Phillips: The ride for Phillips is just about over and the Dallas Cowboys need to elevate James Hanna in as the backup. Phillips wouldn't be a bad option to bring back as the third tight end, but the Cowboys really needed him to develop. That didn't quite happen. Solid player that produced little to average results. That isn't good enough anymore and he's replaceable.

    Verdict: Cut

     

    James Hanna: Started slowly coming on towards the end of the season and eventually passed Phillips on the depth chart. The Cowboys need to develop him in 2013 to be utilized as a weapon. Witten can't do it forever and the time has come to integrate another tight end into this offense.

    Verdict: Keep

Offensive Tackle

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    Tyron Smith: Played well in 2012 as he switched to left tackle. The key with Smith is that he's still developing his game, his upside is huge and he will anchor this line for the next decade.

    Verdict: Keep

     

    Darrion Weems: Not part of the future here in Dallas.

    Verdict: Cut 

     

    Doug Free: Free's performance was a huge disappointment in 2012. His technique was inconsistent, he appeared to have mental lapses and at times he was totally dominated by his opponent. After receiving a lucrative contract, it appears that tackle has become a huge need for this team. It starts by cutting ties with Free.

    Verdict: Cut

     

    Jeremy Parnell: Parnell received valuable snaps while Free struggled and it could be his ticket to being a significant contributor in 2013. He's got great size and raw ability but he needs to further develop his game.

    Verdict: Keep

Interior Linemen

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    Ryan Cook: Cook proved to be a valuable member of the offensive line while replacing Phil Costa. The Dallas Cowboys will probably look to upgrade guard and center but Cook deserves to be in the 2013 plans.

    Verdict: Keep

     

    Phil Costa: This will be a tough call. The problem with Costa last year was his snap inconsistency, and this year it was injuries. He's a bit undersized for my taste, but he could be brought back inexpensively to compete with Cook and a draft pick.

    Verdict: Keep

     

    Kevin Kowalski/Ronald Leary: Both Leary and Kowalski represent young players with versatility. They are both worth bringing back to compete for playing time and one of them could start. Leary, in particular, received draft pick treatment last year and was a personal favorite of Jerry Jones.

    Verdict: Keep

     

    Nate Livings/Mackenzy Bernadeau: Both players were signed as a free-agents last season and played well after settling into their roles. With the Cowboys inconsistent running game not exactly the best reflection of the offensive line, these two players will be challenged, but should retain their starting status. Bernadeau could wind up playing center which shows how versatile he is.

    Verdict: Keep

     

    David Arkin/Derrick Dockery: Can the Cowboys finally get rid of these two players? Dockery was serviceable as in spot duty but Arkin is a complete head-scratcher.

    Verdict: Cut (I'll pay for the plane tickets)

Defensive Tackle

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    Jay Ratliff: If he stays healthy, he's a difference maker on the defensive front. He could be a candidate for a salary restructure, but worth bringing back for at least one more season.

    Verdict: Keep

     

    Sean Lissemore: He suffered through injuries in 2012, but the Dallas Cowboys have signed him for two more years at a favorable salary and he's solid when healthy. He does need a solid 2013 to have a long-term future in Dallas.

    Verdict: Keep

     

    Rob Callaway/Ben Bass: With the status of Josh Brent anybody's guess, the Cowboys will need to add some depth. These two players could be candidates, but they will both need to be brought back to find out. If Ratliff becomes a salary-cap victim, it will also increase their chances.

    Verdict: Keep

     

    Josh Brent: A sad situation with Brent. His status is totally up in the air. If he doesn't land in prison and only receives probation, he will undoubtedly face league suspension. Brent should not be counted on in 2013 at all.

    Verdict: To be determined

     

    Brian Schaefering: Thanks for stopping by.

    Verdict: Cut

Defensive End

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    Kenyon Coleman: Was on pace to have a nice 2012 season before getting injured. Time is up.

    Verdict: Cut

     

    Marcus Spears: Spears never lived up to expectations and was pretty average overall, just like the Dallas Cowboys in general. This might be the player to trade that nets the Cowboys their seventh-round pick back.

    Verdict: Trade

     

    Tyrone Crawford: Crawford will be and should be counted on to be a starter in 2013. Those are the expectations for third-round picks.

    Verdict: Keep

     

    Jason Hatcher: I really like Hatcher's game a lot. He's got great strength, he plays hard and he's quietly become another veteran leader on defense.

    Verdict: Keep

Outside Linebacker

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    Anthony Spencer: The Dallas Cowboys really need to make a sincere effort to secure his services. Spencer had a monster year while recording double-digit sacks, he provided constant pressure and was stellar against the run.

    Verdict: Keep

     

    DeMarcus Ware: Ware didn't have his typical season but, like Jason Witten, he is the consummate warrior, leader and professional. He is still in the prime of his career and his health right now is the most important thing. Once his shoulder and elbow are better, Ware will be wreaking havoc again either in a 3-4 or 4-3 alignment.

    Verdict: Keep

     

    Alex Albright: Albright is a versatile linebacker that really showed some development in his play. He's fundamentally sound and could play either inside or outside.

    Verdict: Keep

     

    Victor Butler: With salary-cap being a concern for the Cowboys, bringing Butler back could be difficult to do. There also could be a team out there willing to overpay for his services. It might be time to move on from the pride of the 2009 draft.

    Verdict: Cut 

     

    Kyle Wilber: Wilber could step into Butler's role as the situational pass-rusher and valued special teams player. As a fourth-round pick, the Cowboys need to prove that they can hit on mid-round picks. Wilber will probably get his shot in 2013.

    Verdict: Keep

Inside Linebacker

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    Sean Lee: A rising star in the NFL, Lee was on his way to an epic season before injury struck. It's hard to replace players like Lee, but that's why depth is important. He will be back in 2013 as the leader of this defense. An absolute stud.

    Verdict: Keep

     

    Bruce Carter : Carter proved what type of player he could be in 2012, especially while Lee was injured. Before going on injured reserve himself, Carter gave us a glimpse of his athletic gifts and he did not disappoint. The future for Carter and Lee is bright and the Cowboys are the beneficiaries. 

    Verdict: Keep

     

    Dan Connor: Signed as a free-agent in 2012, Connor served as a backup and a starter after the rash of injuries hit the Cowboys defense. He was solid in both roles and was a solid overall contributor. 

    Verdict: Keep

     

    Ernie Sims: Sims was a great find by the pro personnel department. He brings a unique combination of speed, intensity and toughness, and it showed in his play. He was asked to come in and contribute under difficult circumstances and he responded well. He's a free-agent worth bringing back at the right price.

    Verdict: Keep

     

    Caleb McSurdy: The Cowboys seventh-round pick in 2012, McSurdy tore his Achilles during the preseason. At this point is he more valuable than Sims?

    Verdict: Cut

     

    Brady Poppinga/Orie Lemon: Unfortunately for Poppinga, he was just filling a need and didn't show much in the process. Lemon was given a shot during the injury crisis and got injured himself. Not much here.

    Verdict: Cut

Cornerback

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    Morris Claiborne: I know he didn't have eye-popping impact, but Claiborne will be a star in the NFL. He was solid in coverage all year long. He did take some lumps, but he always bounced back and fought hard. With another offseason under his belt he will rise up the ladder of NFL cornerbacks.

    Verdict: Keep

     

    Brandon Carr: The prize of the 2012 free-agent signings, Carr had a solid year. He had three interceptions, one for a touchdown and one that sealed a win against Pittsburgh. He did have his moments to forget, but all good cornerbacks do. I expect him to be better in 2013.

    Verdict: Keep

     

    Orlando Scandrick: Jerry Jones made the financial commitment to Scandrick and so far he has not delivered. He still commits costly penalties and can't seem to stay healthy for an entire season. Nonetheless, he will be back to man the slot.

    Verdict: Keep

     

    Mike Jenkins: The Dallas Cowboys, in hindsight, maybe should've traded him last season. He had some solid moments while filling in for Scandrick, but this will come down to money. Jenkins will seek and probably get a free-agent deal to play elsewhere.

    Verdict: Cut

     

    Michael Coe/Vince Agnew: The Cowboys could bring them back to compete in training camp, but there are other players out there who possess the same skill-sets as these two players.

    Verdict: Cut

     

    Sterling Moore: Moore was signed as a free-agent and also for 2013. He was asked to do a lot in a short period of time and he delivered. This could be another gem by the pro personnel department and the reason why Jenkins becomes expendable. I like Moore a lot.

    Verdict: Keep

Safety

13 of 14

    Barry Church: Church was enjoying a breakout season before his injury set off a firestorm of injuries on this defense. Still, he was rewarded with a four-year contract, so that might tell you something about his status for 2013. The key will be how well he comes back from being injured.

    Verdict: Keep

     

    Gerald Sensabaugh: Sensabaugh had a solid 2012 season and he just goes about his job quietly. At times he appeared to be lost in communication issues and blown coverages, but he's a solid contributor for this defense.

    Verdict: Keep

     

    Charlie Peprah: The pro personnel department may have hit the trifecta with Peprah. He wound up replacing Danny McCray in the starting lineup until he injured his foot. But when healthy, he displayed the skills that could put him right in the middle of a safety competition for 2013.

    Verdict: Keep

     

    Matt Johnson: I am still intrigued by the anticipation of what Matt Johnson is capable of. Now all he needs to do is stay on the field.

    Verdict: Keep

     

    Eric Frampton: Frampton was another in-season signing and his play was average. He wound up starting down the stretch in place of Peprah and McCray, but clearly lacks ball-hawking ability that the Dallas Cowboys need. Not much more than a backup.

    Verdict: Cut

     

    Danny McCray: McCray is a stud on special teams but not much of a starting caliber safety. I could see Dallas bringing him back to captain the special teams, but he should only serve in that capacity. He is a horrible safety but someone needs to wrap up punt and kickoff returners.

    Verdict: Keep

Special Teams

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    Dan Bailey: The Dallas Cowboys can't ask for much more at kicker. Okay, maybe that 51-yard attempt against the Baltimore Ravens. Bailey is a stud and he made 29 of 31 field goals in 2012.

    Verdict: Keep

     

    Brian Moorman: Filled in nicely for Chris Jones initially, but struggled down the stretch a bit. As an aging veteran, he will not be back.

    Verdict: Cut

     

    Chris Jones: Come on back Chris!

    Verdict: Keep

     

    L.P. Ladouceur: Probably one of the unsung heroes on the Cowboys. He goes out and does his job with the utmost consistency. As long as the price is right, he needs to return.

    Verdict: Keep

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