NFL Cowboys Cutdown Tracker: Deadline Moves & Special-Teams Shuffle

Mike Fisher

FRISCO - Dallas Cowboys COO Stephen Jones says this is the most unique NFL cutdown time he's ever experienced, and for good reason: There's been too little time for Dallas to evaluate its guys, let alone on-the-bubble talent in the 31 other cites.

So Dallas will very much go with known quantities here as the 3 p.m. Saturday deadline approaches to shave the roster to 53.

Who is getting jobs? Who is getting "shaved''? will provide our NFL Cowboys Cutdown Tracker for around-the-clock coverage of all the moves ... and maybe some rumors about moves, too.

Keep it here. Click it here. And stay in touch ...

SUNDAY 1147a: SPECIAL-TEAMS SHUFFLE Linebacker Joe Thomas is off the 53 for now, but likely coming back. And coming to the 53? Special-teamer/receiver Malik Turner. The story is here.

A summary of more ... above.

SATURDAY 305p COMPLETE LIST OF MOVES (FOR NOW) It's complete. But it's going to change. Here, though, for the record ... the Dallas Cowboys 3 p.m. cutdown to 53, as submitted to the NFL:

Alarcon, Isaac T (Monterrey Tech)

Bernard, Francis LB (Utah)

Burton, Deante CB (Kansas State)

Carter, Ron'Dell DE (James Madison)

Goodwin, CJ, DB (Cal)

Hamilton, Justin DT (Louisiana)

Hamilton, Ladarius DE (North Texas)

Henry, Marcus C (Boise State)

Jones, Tevin WR (Memphis)

Johnson, Jon'vea WR (Toledo)

Kirk, Luther S (Illinois State)

March, Justin LB (Akron)

Olonilua, Sewo FB (TCU)

Parker, Aaron WR (Rhode Island)

Smith, Savion DB (Alabama)

Westry, Chris CB (Kentucky)

As we've noted throughout this process: A trio of Cowboys cuts to watch re-surface once other moves are made: Special-team helpers CJ Goodwin, Justin March and Francis Bernard.

Therefore, the for-now roster of 53:

SATURDAY 11:50a LB SHUFFLE? The possibilities with Sean Lee (hoping his injury is a short-term one) are noted below. But now pops up another Dallas linebacker name:

Francis Bernard.

One way for the Cowboys to play a release of rookie Bernard: Sneak him through waivers, with injured Sean Lee and Luke Gifford staying on the 53 - then bring back Bernard assuming Lee and Gifford move to short-term IR.

One idea floated: Bernard comes back to the practice squad. Maybe - but look how thin the Dallas linebacking corps is without Lee, Gifford and Bernard. 

Meanwhile, per Michael Gehlkin of the Morning News, also heading out: Receivers Tevin Jones and Jon'Vea Johnson, defensive linemen Ron'Dell Carter, LaDarius Hamilton and Justin Hamilton, running back Sewo Olonilua, center Marcus Henry, tackle Isaac Alarcón and DBs Deante Burton, Luther Kirk, Saivion Smith and Chris Westry, The 6-4 Westry is among those expected to be brought back to the practice squad if available.

FRIDAY 545p - BRANDON CARR VISIT The Cowboys street FA search has focused on safeties, we’ve been told. But as SI’s Albert Breer notes, old pal Brandon Carr has visited team HQ. Some here in the building think the vet cornerback - last with the Ravens - might have some position flex. We’d argue that during his time in Dallas, his success was about durability, not tackling like a safety. We will investigate ...

RIDAY 3p - HOW INJURED IS SEAN LEE? Linebacker Sean Lee and cornerback Jourdan Lewis are of course in no danger o being left off this weekend's 53-man roster. But they could be "temporary casualties'' after that by being placed on IR.

The Cowboys good news in this regard: New COVID-19-era rules have shortened the time a player must be on IR (down to three weeks from six) and increased the number of players who can come off it (from three to unlimited).

So in addition to IR candidates like receiver Ventell Bryant and linebacker Luke Gifford, Lewis (ankle) and Lee could come back soon enough.

However, the Dallas Morning News reports that Lee's injury is "characterized as a sports hernia.'' And this could be more problematic.

Depending on the severity of that injury, the oft-sidelined Lee - the standout veteran who did play in all 16 games last year - could need only a month to heal from an injury the team suggests was sustained in early August. But if the injury is serious enough to require surgery? Recovery could take six to 12 weeks.

Bryant and Gifford are not roster locks. Lewis is, and his situation is not serious.

But Lee's situation is too unknown to as yet be described as "not serious.''

FRIDAY 227p - A QUARTET OF MOVES The Cowboys continued the slice-down on Friday afternoon with a quartet of not-unexpected moves:

Darius Anderson, Cole Hikutini, Joe Jackson and Cody Wichmann are gone for now. Jackson is a former draft pick; Wichmann could be attractive as a practice-squadder due to his flexibility.

FRIDAY 9a - A THIRD RUNNING BACK? Do the Cowboys need another running back, per se?


Do they need a running back who can backup Zeke and Pollard ... and who can star on special teams?

Tampa Bay's acquisition of Leonard Fournette is apparently causing Dare Ogunbowale to be an odd-man out with the Bucs. Ogunbowale as a running back? Meh. As a guy who has served as Tampa's special-teams captain?

Now we're talking.

READ MORE: Cowboys Foe Washington Is Cutting Emmitt-Chasing Adrian Peterson

Forget Adrian Peterson. The Cowboys don't need a third ball-carrier. They need to call the cavalry to help turn around a 2019 special-teams groups that is one of the poorest I've seen in almost 40 years of covering the NFL.

THURSDAY 3:50p - NO JOKE, HA HA IS OUT ... This really shouldn't come as a shocker as ESPN speculated about this earlier in the week, but Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has in a three-week span gone from a starting safety to a backup safety to a safety out of a job.

ESPN reports on Thursday that Clinton-Dix has been released. One humorous aspect of this: National media people reporting that Clinton-Dix is a better player than the still-available Earl Thomas.

He's not. Obviously.

TUESDAY 530pm - A WAVE OF O-LINEMEN OUT ... In addition to Dallas moving on from offensive lineman Adam Redmond, the Cowboys have released a trio of other O-linemen: tackles Pace Murphy, Mitch Hyatt (waived/injured) and Wyatt Miller (waived/injured). Also out is and tight end Charlie Taumoepeau.

And we don't think Dallas is done with the O-line backups. The Cowboys reserves at the tackle spot have not had good camps. Surely, for instance, Cam Erving makes the 53. But then ... maybe a search of other teams' reserves to see if the NFL can offer a better answer.

TUESDAY 1215pm - FIRST CUTS Multiple reports have the Cowboys making a trio of cuts, all on the offensive side of the ball: Receiver Devin Smith, offensive lineman Adam Redmond and QB Clayton Thorson - none of whom made our team when we did our early-morning 53-man projection.

READ MORE: Cowboys Cutdown Time; 53-Man Roster Projection

TUESDAY 7am - IS HA HA ON THE ROSTER BUBBLE? ESPN's Todd Archer says "no'' ... but still hints at the possibility, writing, "I don’t think Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is on the bubble but his guarantee was $2.25 million,'' and then goes on to note that Dallas has cut veterans before in this spot.

This much is true: Mike McCarthy brought in an old Packers guy to start at safety. Clinton-Dix is in the process of being overtaken by journeyman Darian Thompson.

And the Dallas roster - loaded in so many spots - has one place that sticks out like a sore thumb. The mere mention of Clinton-Dix as even a remote possibility here speaks volumes about how poorly this idea has worked so far.

By the way: Yes, we keep beating the drum for an Earl Thomas exploration. We know all about the red flags; we've written about them in depth. But Dallas simply cannot justify going deep into a season believing that the guys alongside Xavier Woods are in Thomas' league as a player.

HOW MANY RBs?: We've made the argument that two may be enough (Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard) because the other tailbacks are all "decent'' and on the same level .. and therefore one of them is likely to remain available later, on the street, if needed. 

Same thing at fullback, by the way. I bet backup tight end Blake Bell is a better blocking fullback than anybody else on this roster. Last year the fullback played seven snaps a game - hardly enough to merit a whole roster slot, we say.

RANDOM 53-MAN THOUGHTS: We bet the coaching staff loves rookie QB Ben DiNucci to much to pass on retaining him in some capacity ... The other roster weakness beyond safety? Swing tackle ... With Ventell Bryant hurt, we wonder if Dallas will just keep five receivers now? ... McCarthy said a long time ago that he'd like 10 D-linemen - six rushers and four tackles. With Randy Gregory still in limbo, it looks like exactly that to us. 

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