The logic behind the Dallas Cowboys roster moves

Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

With rosters being knocked down to 53, the Dallas Cowboys, like many other teams, had to play a numbers game. With this game came a final roster that had no long snappers, no kickers, and one quarterback.

Now, this isn’t alarming unless teams move in and grab some of the cut or waived players. Most teams have a handshake deal with several cut players to bring them back as soon as possible. Odds are all of those positions will be filled as soon as the team moves players like James Washington to injured reserved or elsewhere to protect them.

However, there are some other parts to the whole process that are not thought of as to why the moves made are done. If a player has the injury designation when they are cut, if they are not picked up by a team will revert back to the original team for IR/PUP, so some players are cut thinking no one will want to add them to their 53 because of injury.

Another part of the process is thinking a player won’t make it through waivers to reclaim him, this sometimes forces a team to go “long” at a position to stash a guy on the practice squad the next day.

The Dallas Cowboys played a numbers game on final cuts, but their is reasoning behind each move and it’s not permanent

When a player is released there are really two designations ultimately. The first is what is called cut. This is a player with more than four years of NFL experience. When they are cut they are free to sign with another team immediately.

This is why a player like Brett Maher can be cut with a handshake deal. The Dallas Cowboys essentially told him they would cut him so they can stash a player like Washington for IR and then bring him back the next day.

The second is called waived. This is a player that has less than four years of accrued service. These players have to pass through waivers where the other 31 teams can put in a claim for the player, but must sign him to their 53-man roster if they do acquire him.

Waivers are why some players that are at the end of the roster surprisingly make the final roster. Teams have a waiver-wire order based on the previous year’s record. That means if the Jacksonville Jaguars want Malik Davis they can put a waiver claim on him and since they are first in the order would claim him.

Where it gets sticky is if the Jaguars want Malik Davis, Will Grier, and say, Tyler Coyle, they could put in a claim for all three and since they are the first team, they would get all three. This process has to happen for 31 teams before the Cowboys can bring back one of the guys they cut. This means the Cowboys felt better about releasing certain players in hopes they can bring them back, but hard decisions still had to be made.

So tomorrow (or today when this finally gets posted) the Cowboys will (or won’t) have their own claims put in and have to wait until 23 other teams pass on players to see if they get them if they are waived from other teams. If they put in a claim they can make space by moving a player like Washington to injured reserve. The roster is far from “final” but they have to wait and see who they can claim and who they can bring back.

For those cut and not waived, the fear is other teams could try and make an offer the player can’t refuse. So a team that needs a backup quarterback could offer Cooper Rush, for instance, a bigger deal than the Dallas Cowboys are willing to offer and could lose out bringing him back. The handshake deals are not set in stone, but most players do return to their original teams. Teams are free to start negotiating with cut players.

Every year it is a numbers game and teams play the game with hopes they can bring back certain players. It may not always work out, but the reality is most teams protect their players. I would assume backup quarterback, kicker, long snapper will be among the first players brought back. The bottom of the roster churning with the hopes to bring back guys like Davis will occur, perhaps it is a player cut from another team if Davis is picked up by another team.

Next. Dallas Cowboys Super Early 2023 Mock Draft Prediction: Cowboys select…. dark

With about ten days before the start of the season, there are still decisions to be made and players to be signed. The Dallas Cowboys have some obvious holes to fill with the cuts, but the bigger question for most will be the practice squad. We will get a much clearer picture over the next day or two. Then we wait until September 11th for the first game of the season.