Dallas Cowboys: Candidates for release in 2018

SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 22: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones stands on the field prior to their NFL game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on October 22, 2017 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - OCTOBER 22: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones stands on the field prior to their NFL game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium on October 22, 2017 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /

The Dallas Cowboys could be looking to clean house in 2018 and they may not have to do that much. Here are some players who could be cut for next season.

The Dallas Cowboys have a lot of needs heading into the 2018 season and while this three-game slide illustrates how important depth is on a roster, it also illuminates the positions of concern for this club.

There are also several players who have performed pretty terribly but also negatively affect the salary cap. This would impact the Dallas Cowboys front office ability to be flexible and sign players who could positively impact their roster.

It is never easy looking at a roster and finding glaring holes for talent or production, however finding a player whose contract is a giant red flag in itself is fairly simple. The Dallas Cowboys will have six players with a cap hit of more than nine million in 2018, Tyron Smith, Dez Bryant, Sean Lee, Zack Martin, Travis Frederick, and Tyrone Crawford.

None of these players are really all that moveable especially the offensive linemen, I am fairly certain the Dallas Cowboys will want those players specifically to retire with a star on their helmet. Sean Lee is a team first player who like Jason Witten in the past could re-structure his contract for the benefit of the team.

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While he is over 30, Lee is an irreplaceable piece of this defense at this point, there are just no other linebackers that match his level of talent on the roster. Bryant is probably the best player to pick on from a fan perspective because of his gaudy cap hit (north of 16 million).

In reality, Bryant is the best wide receiver the Cowboys have no matter what this season stats end up being. Realistically he will end up with eight or nine touchdowns and almost 1,000 yards which is not bad in terms of production, just not what you would expect from an elite player whose contract is so large.

Bryant could be a target to re-structure his contract as well and if he adjusts it in favor of opening up roster space. Doing that would pretty much guarantee that he will not be moved via trade or other.

There is also Tyrone Crawford who is not exactly heating up the stat sheet. He has recorded four sacks so far and getting him to make some space to improve this pass rush (more importantly re-sign Demarcus Lawerence) will be absolutely necessary.  So besides Crawford, Lee, and Bryant where else could the organization find cap relief?

Witten and Orlando Scandrick will have the larger cap hits at 6.5 and 5 million respectively and those deals could also be restructured to help the franchise. More interesting names appear to be players like Benson Mayowa, Terrance Williams, Charles Tapper, James Hanna, and Randy Gregory.

Tapper and Gregory have barely been on the field but releasing them could save the team around two million in cap space. Gregory should remain on the roster as he will likely draw the one year prove it deal if he can manage to get back on the field.

Williams has the most egregious hit out of the players listed above as his contract will count $4.7 million against the cap. Williams is not worth that kind of price, you could likely sign the aging Danny Amendola for $2 million and have the same if not better productivity.

It is really simple, he is not consistent enough to stay on this roster at that price as Brice Butler has had just as making game-breaking plays. Adding a top-tier talent at wide receiver during the 2018 draft would go a long way, but rebuilding the unit or at the very least adding multiple fresh bodies is most likely the best option.

Hanna is the best blocking tight end on the roster besides potentially Jason Witten and that should ensure his roster spot. Chaz Green has played poorly but his cap hit is only $877,245 so he is not really a luxury.

Neither is Anthony Brown, who has struggled at the cornerback position all season long, his cap hit comes in at a mere $630,000. If the Cowboys are in any danger of losing Demarcus Lawrence than both of these players jobs could be in jeopardy however as it stands they are both cheap options (and it shows).

Brown is responsible for most of the flags the Cowboys secondary has drawn this season and Green is a player who allowed the team’s franchise quarterback to get sacked five times. These guys will likely hit free agency when the time comes.

Well, there is the Dallas Cowboys 2018 free agent class that will likely see the departure of Darren McFadden (already gone), Alfred Morris, Stephen Paea (already gone), Joe Looney, Jonathan Cooper, and Byron Bell.

All of them officially being off the books would give the team some extra breathing space but the primary goal should be to open enough space to re-sign Lawrence for at least four more years.

The Dallas Cowboys could open up at least $20 million in cap space if they made some contract alterations and that would likely be enough to re-sign Lawrence and add a few pieces on the side.

Veterans players during the 2018 free agent period would be helpful to this roster as the Cowboys need some dependable players to back up their stars. There is a ton of need at wide receiver, offensive, and defensive line, in the linebacking corps, and in the secondary.

Next: Notable free agent wide receivers for 2018

The offense will improve when Ezekiel Elliott returns from suspension but not enough to not justify picking up a veteran presence at the wide receiving position. Defensively the Dallas Cowboys are still a work in progress. There will multiple players heading into their second season with the club and likely a new crop of defensive draft picks to join the party. Expect Dallas to make some big moves early on in 2018.