Final cuts were due by all 32 NFL teams on August 3; for at least 24 hours, the Dallas Cowboys have a 53-man roster in place. The team released 28 players -including all three backup quarterbacks- to make the final numbers.
After 24 hours, some of the players on the 53-man roster will move to the Injured Reserve (IR) list, which will reopen a spot on the active roster while still giving the injured player a chance to get back on the field later this season.
Some of the roster cuts today were veteran players that likely will be back on the team for the September 11 season opener, while a number of the players will be subjected to waivers and can be claimed by any team. Players released by other teams who clear waivers may be added to the Cowboys practice squad or even the active roster.
The most surprising cuts on paper are the release of all three backup QB options, Cooper Rush, Will Grier, and Ben DiNucci. The decision is a practical one, as only Grier — claimed off waivers by the Cowboys in 2021 — and DiNucci are subject to waiver rules. The Cowboys will likely address the backup quarterback position in the coming days.
Brett Maher, the only field goal kicker, and Jake McQuaide, the only long snapper on the roster, were also surprising cuts.
The running back position was much-discussed throughout training camp, and the Cowboys made the decision to keep Rico Dowdle over Malik Davis to back up Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard.
Wide receiver was also a big question mark. Undrafted free agent and special teams hero of Week 2 KaVontae Turpin made the final roster, while former Texas Tech receiver TJ Vasher was cut.
Some of the key active players today who will not be on the active roster include Tyron Smith, who suffered a hamstring injury requiring surgery in the preseason. The Cowboys hope the star left tackle will be able to return by Thanksgiving.
First-round pick Tyler Smith will get the opportunity to show that he belongs on an NFL offensive line until then.
Wide receiver James Washington is another player currently on the active roster who will be moved to the IR in 24 hours. Washington suffered a foot fracture in the first padded practice of the offseason and is expected to miss 6-10 weeks. Dallas signed him in the offseason to help fill the void left by the Amari Cooper trade.
The Cowboys kept four undrafted free agents on the 53-man roster. Turpin and fellow wide receiver Dennis Houston are in, along with safety Markquese Bell and tight end Peyton Hendershot. At least for the time being, Sean McKeon leaves the tight-end group to make way for the newcomer.
Players on the defensive line represented the largest amount of depth on the roster, so it was expected that a number of the roster cuts would involve defensive players. Probably the biggest name on the list is defensive tackle Carlos Watkins, who was beaten out by Quinten Bohana, Trysten Hill, and Terrell Basham in making the final roster.
Final roster cuts are never truly final. Several alterations will likely happen in the coming days as the Cowboys staff looks at other teams’ roster cuts around the league and whether any of the newly released players may fill a need for the team.
Dallas must also fill out a 16-man practice squad, meaning that many of the players who were cut Tuesday will likely be back in the building in the next few days.