Some difficult roster decisions are coming for the Cowboys.
The Dallas Cowboys will be getting some more firepower soon as several of their key players are expected to return from injury in the upcoming weeks. It’s still not clear when some of these players will be back in action, but we do have a list of players and know it shouldn’t be much longer. We also know that in order to get them back on the roster, some players will need to be released.
Today, we’re going to take a look at the Cowboys roster and attempt to predict which players will be roster cuts to make room for these additions.
A quick rundown of the Cowboys current 53-man roster looks like this:
Note: Dorance Armstrong is returning, but he’s still on the roster, so we don’t need to make room for him.
So, which of these players are most likely to be released to make room for the returning players? They need six spots, so which six get the boot? Here are six potential candidates.
TE Jeremy Sprinkle
The veteran tight end seems like an easy choice for a couple of reasons. First, his skillset closely matches what one of the returning players, Sean McKeon, offers the team. He’s a blocking tight end who can help out on special teams. The second reason is that he’s one of the most recent players the Cowboys added to the team. This just seems like a no-brainer.
WR Malik Turner
Similar to the McKeon/Sprinkle situation, this one makes the most sense if the team goes wide receiver for wide receiver to open up space for Michael Gallup. Turner had a nice training camp before going on injured reserve in August with a foot injury. With the value of Cedrick Wilson and Noah Brown (both of which have been “cut candidates” in the past) clearly seen, the Cowboys are super deep at the wide receiver position. The team could surprise everyone and cut loose the rookie Simi Fehoko, but that seems highly unlikely as it is presumed the team sees something in him to keep him around this long. That makes the veteran Turner a cut candidate.
RB Corey Clement
When the Cowboys signed Clement at the start of the season, it was a little surprising as he was on nobody’s radar. He’s played in all six games so far, but primarily on special teams. Clement has only played five total offensive snaps with three carries for no yards in garbage time against Philadelphia in Week 3. Unless Clement is one of those guys the team loves in the locker room and his special teams’ value is more important than we know, he seems like a good candidate to be released. While the Cowboys do get a lot of mileage out of their running backs (no. 2 in the league in rushing attempts), Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard are more than capable of handling the workload. It just feels like Clement’s skill set is easily replaceable.
DE Azur Kamara
A fan favorite after winning us over on HBO’s Hard Knocks, Kamara is fun to root for. And it was hard not to have a soft spot for him as we watched him celebrate making the Cowboys roster. Kamara was on the team’s practice squad last season and it’s nice seeing him take the next step forward. Injuries along the edge have even allowed him to see action on defense (albeit limited) in four of the last five games. However, as players like DeMarcus Lawrence and Dorance Armstrong return, it’s hard seeing him have any opportunities to get on the field on defense. Bradlee Anae is another edge rusher who is near the bottom, but he’s been out-snapping Kamara, so Azur is the weakest link.
Before we get to the final two cut predictions, let’s address a couple of other questions when factoring in who gets released…
What are the Cowboys doing with Will Grier?
Considering he made the opening 53, we’re going to presume the coaching staff has a plan for him. Whether it’s for development purposes or to be in the backup mix, they want him around for a reason, so we’ll leave his spot alone for now.
Is Luke Gifford’s spot officially safe?
A lot has happened over the past couple of weeks. One of which is the release of Jaylon Smith, meaning the team needs Gifford for linebacker depth. The second one is, Gifford came through with a great punt block against the New England Patriots. The once bubble boy is doing more and more to secure his roster spot.
Should Anthony Brown be on this list?
No. We know fans are excited about the return of Kelvin Joseph, but we need to slow our roll in thinking he’s going to come back and immediately spell Anthony Brown. Sure, that’s the eventual hope, but don’t expect it to happen soon and he’s certainly not going to push Brown off the roster.
Now, back to our cut candidates…
DB Israel Mukuamu
It’s fair to say that Israel Mukuamu was selected with the idea of being a development stash. So, it shouldn’t be that surprising that the rookie hasn’t seen much action thus far. Mukuamu has been inactive for four games this season and only saw action in the blowout win over the Eagles. It would be nice to keep him in their back pocket, but the Cowboys just don’t have the roster space flexibility to keep everyone. Mukuamu could be released with the hopes of retaining him on the practice squad.
DT Trysten Hill
Oops, did I say they were cutting six players? I meant, they’re cutting five and the sixth spot isn’t going to be needed. On one hand, it would be nice to see what he could do if given a chance in Dan Quinn’s defense. But on the other hand, who’s reps is he taking? With Neville Gallimore coming back and Osa Odighizuw playing well, it’s just really difficult to see the team making room for him. Don’t be surprised if the Cowboys drag this one out as long as they can before sending him on his way.