Dallas Cowboys Players Most Likely to Be Cut Before 2017 Season
Every year, the Cowboys shock their fanbase with a few surprising cuts before the season starts. In 2016, Dallas released defensive end Ryan Russell and cornerback Deji Olatoye, two players who seemed like locks to make the roster.
But as the Cowboys roster gets better and deeper, there may be more surprising cuts. At the same time, most of the roster is already set, meaning there are very few spots open. As a result, most of these are fairly predictable, but a few may surprise you.
Let's start with the Cowboys' rookie class, where the odds of all nine draft selections making the team is slim.
In the past few years, we've seen the Cowboys use some of their later-round selections on players who have a high ceiling and can be stashed on the practice squad for a year or two before they are ready to contribute.
Sixth-round pick Rico Gathers is a perfect example from 2016. He was cut before the season but spent the year on the practice squad. Now, he looks ready for a bigger role.
This year, Noah Brown, Marquez White and Jordan Carrell stand out as draft-and-stash candidates.
Brown, who is raw, is going to have a tough time passing Brice Butler at wide receiver. But a year on the practice squad might provide him the chance.
White is the team's sixth or seventh cornerback, but he could possibly replace Nolan Carroll or Orlando Scandrick on the depth chart in 2018.
Carrell, who will likely be competing with fellow seventh-round pick Joey Ivie for a spot, is a versatile defensive lineman buried on a deep unit. He'll be a nice practice-squad defensive lineman who can play multiple positions during the week.
When Alfred Morris signed with the Cowboys in 2016, the thought was that he had a chance to be the starting running back. Later on in that same offseason, the team selected Ezekiel Elliott in the first round. No longer was he competing for the starting gig, but for a backup spot with another veteran: Darren McFadden.
Once McFadden was cleared from an elbow injury, he instantly replaced Morris as the team's backup. Morris was inactive for Weeks 15 and 16 and then played just sparingly in a meaningless Week 17 game in which Elliott didn't feature.
But to say that's the reason he will be cut isn't quite telling the whole story. Morris averaged just 3.5 yards per carry on 69 attempts in 2016. He just wasn't effective when he was in the game.
Morris' biggest problem is that he just doesn't offer much besides running the ball. He's not a gifted pass-catcher (just 50 career catches in five seasons) and doesn't have the home-run speed Dallas covets, nor does he offer anything on special teams. Knowing that the third running back often has to do many jobs, Morris will likely be cut or traded by the end of the camp.
Heading into 2017, Morris is at best the Cowboys' third running back and could be on the outside looking in when the team decides on its final 53 in September.
As soon as the Cowboys selected wideout Ryan Switzer in the fourth round, the writing was on the wall for Lucky Whitehead. After being the team's primary returner in the past two seasons, Whitehead will likely be on his way out as the Cowboys transition to Switzer as the team's primary returner.
Whitehead just didn't provide enough spark on offense or special teams to carve out a role in 2017. In his two years in Dallas, he has never returned a punt or kickoff for a score and has averaged just 6.9 yards per punt return. To make matters worse, Whitehead fumbled four times on just 29 touches.
The Cowboys could try to keep Whitehead on the practice squad in case Switzer can't handle the job, but he's talented enough to find a place on another roster. Whitehead will need a monster training camp to beat out Switzer for the team's fifth receiver job in 2017.
Last year, Jameill Showers was often ahead of Dak Prescott on the depth chart in training camp and in drills. Heading into the team's first preseason game, it was a mystery as to who would start between Prescott and Showers. But after Prescott's success, Showers has been moved to safety as the team believes he has a better chance of making the roster as a defensive player.
But what are the chances that Showers actually makes the roster as a safety? Well, he's going to have to make his money on special teams as he is learning the position. If Showers can make enough plays on defense and on special teams during preseason, it could force the Cowboys into keeping five safeties and a Swiss army knife type of player on the roster in Showers.
At the very worst, Showers is the perfect player to keep on the practice squad as he can do multiple things during the week to help the team prepare for their upcoming game. While it may seem small, that's a big asset to have on your roster. Just don't expect him to start out on the 53-man roster in Week 1.
Andy Jones was a "hot" name at this time last year as he dominated OTAs and minicamps for the Cowboys, as noted by Bryan Broaddus for the Cowboys' website. However, when the lights came on, Jones didn't show much in the preseason. He then spent the season on the Cowboys' practice squad but was never active for a game.
He's got a tough road ahead of him once again if he wants to make the Cowboys roster. His competition likely includes Brice Butler, Lucky Whitehead and Noah Brown. Jones might have a chance to catch on to the team's practice squad once again, but he may be auditioning for other teams during training camp and in the preseason.
Last year, cornerback Leon McFadden played in some pretty big moments for the Cowboys. The biggest was in Pittsburgh when he was forced to cover Antonio Brown for the entire second half. But with the Cowboys drafting three cornerbacks in April's draft, McFadden's odds of making the team are awfully low.
However, if the Cowboys decide to keep six cornerbacks, McFadden will be in a battle with Marquez White for the final spot on the roster. If the Cowboys do want to keep another veteran around with their group of young corners, McFadden isn't a bad option to have at the end of the roster.
McFadden seems unlikely to make the team's final 53, but he's just too talented not to find his way onto another team. Look for McFadden to be one of the final cuts before the season.
Zac Dysert was signed earlier this month to be a camp arm for the Cowboys. It's tough to see him or any other quarterback not named Dak Prescott or Kellen Moore making the final roster. Dallas feels pretty good about its first two quarterbacks, and expect the team to add a quarterback to its practice squad once the final cuts are over.
As for Dysert, he's on his seventh team in five seasons and has yet to throw a pass in the NFL. He's going to see very limited action in training camp and will need a huge preseason for the Cowboys to consider him as the team's third quarterback. He's an extreme long shot to make the final 53-man roster.