Cowboys Players Who Need Impressive Camp to Avoid Being Cut
Though the Dallas Cowboys only won six games in 2020, their roster is capable of competing this season. Dallas' biggest issue was injuries a year ago, and with several key players healthy and returning, open roster spots will not be plentiful.
For many of the players on Dallas' roster, it's going to take a stellar training camp to make the final 53. Standouts like Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb, Ezekiel Elliott and Demarcus Lawrence will be safe, of course. Undrafted rookies, role players and special teamers? Not so much.
The following three players will need to impress in camp to stick around for another season in Big D.
QB Ben DiNucci
Quarterback Ben DiNucci got a starting opportunity as a rookie last season after both Dak Prescott and Andy Dalton were sidelined. The results weren't great—DiNucci went 21-of-40 during a 23-9 loss—and Dallas turned to Garrett Gilbert the following week.
With Gilbert and Cooper Rush backing up a healthy Prescott, DiNucci knows he must be better to get another opportunity.
"We realize that spots are on the line, so it'll be fun, it'll be competitive, but that's all you can ask for," DiNucci said, per Rob Phillips of the team's official website.
The problem is that teams rarely show a lot of loyalty to seventh-round draft picks. If DiNucci doesn't show a large amount of improvement during training camp, he could find himself on the practice squad or in the unemployment line ahead of Week 1.
WR Noah Brown
While seventh-round picks don't always stick on rosters for long, wideout Noah Brown has been a member of the Cowboys since being taken 239th overall in 2017—though he was injured for all of 2019. Brown re-signed with Dallas this offseason on a one-year, $1.27 million deal.
The challenge for Brown is that he's looking up at a deep depth chart and has just $137,000 in guarantees on his contract. If Dallas doesn't view him as a high-level contributor, it can save nearly $1 million by letting him go.
Lamb, Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup are all likely locks to make the roster. The Cowboys also have Cedrick Wilson and rookie Simi Fehoko at the position, among others.
If Brown doesn't have a strong camp, the Cowboys could find it hard to justify spending $1 million and a roster spot on a receiver who played just 20 percent of the offensive snaps a year ago.
DT Trysten Hill
Cutting Trysten Hill would be a somewhat surprising move since the defensive tackle was a second-round pick just two years ago. However, Hill could be a cutdown casualty, as his contributions to the team have been minimal.
Hill has played just 12 games for Dallas and has played just 169 defensive snaps in his two seasons. The coaching staff that drafted him is long gone, and Hill is also coming off of a torn ACL that ended his 2020 campaign.
While releasing Hill would save a little more than $500,000 in cap space, it would save the Cowboys a valuable roster spot. There's no guarantee that Hill will be healthy enough to contribute by Week 1, and with just 16 career tackles on his resume, Dallas may prefer to use the spot on a more promising player.
Parting with Hill would also allow Mike McCarthy and the rest of the coaching staff to wash their hands of a draft selection that appears to be a mistake of the previous regime.