Cowboys Release Veteran Defender After Michael Bennett Trade

Jerry Jones

Getty Jerry Jones

With the impending trade sending Patriots defensive end Michael Bennett to the Cowboys, someone had to draw the short straw on Dallas’ at-capacity active roster. That someone is Justin Hamilton.

The Cowboys, according to multiple reports, released Hamilton on Friday, nine days after the veteran defensive lineman landed in North Texas.

Hamilton was inked prior to the Cowboys’ Week 7 game against Philadelphia, an insurance signing following the loss of starting DE Tyrone Crawford (hips), who was moved to injured reserve. The ex-Eagle was a healthy scratch for the nationally-televised contest, a 37-10 Cowboys victory. Like Bennett, Hamilton knew defensive coordinator Kris Richard from their time with the Seattle Seahawks.

Hamilton (6-2, 315) entered the NFL in 2015 as an undrafted free agent picked up by the Buffalo Bills. He was released at final cuts and had a cup of coffee with the Packers that same year.

He spent 2016 yo-yo-ing between the Seahawks’ taxi squad and the unemployment line. In 2017, upon joining Philly, Hamilton got his big break, elevated from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. He made three appearances for the Eagles, logging three combined tackles and a half-sack.

The Kansas City Chiefs poached Hamilton in December 2017. He appeared in five Chiefs games (starting one) over the last two seasons before being released in August.

Hamilton played his college ball at Louisiana-Lafayette, where he was a four-year contributor, making 102 career tackles, 29 tackles for loss, and 14 sacks. He earned First Team All-Sun Belt Conference honors as a senior in 2014.

He’s now permitted to immediately sign elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent.

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Jerry Jones Makes Questionable Statement on Bennett

Jerry Jones is excited over Bennett’s arrival to the Lone Star State. Perhaps a little too excited. Calling in to 105.3 The Fan on Friday, the Cowboys’ owner addressed Thursday’s acquisition of Bennett, a transaction which cost Jones a 2021 conditional seventh-round NFL draft pick. A transaction, many feel, is without blemish. For a person, Jones believes, is flawless.

“He’s known as a great locker room personality. There’s nothing negative about him as an individual. … He’s got war daddy in him when he gets on the field. I know that he’ll fit us great,” Jones said, per The Athletic.

Great player? His 65.5 career sacks, three Pro Bowl berths and Super Bowl ring scream “yes.” Great locker room personality? That’s debatable, especially in Jerry’s universe.

Take away his recent issue in New England, where he was suspended one week for conduct detrimental, which ultimately led to his departure. Take away, as Pro Football Talk noted, his old remark about Lions quarterback Matt Stafford that he strangely tied to the city of Dallas.

“I don’t like Matt Stafford that much,” Bennett said in 2015, per PFT. “[H]e’s from Dallas and Dallas, they killed the President,” he added. “It’s where JFK, one of the greatest Presidents, died at so I just have a little hatred towards him.”

Two years ago, almost to the day, Bennett was hypercritical of Jones, whose stance squaring Colin Kaepernick and his protesting of the national anthem — then the NFL’s biggest controversy — he termed “crazy.”

“It reminded me of the Dred Scott case: You’re property, so you don’t have the ability to be a person first,” Bennett said in 2017 while playing for the Seattle Seahawks, per ESPN.com. “I think that in this generation, I think that sends the wrong message to young kids and young people all across the world that your employer doesn’t see you as a human being, they see you as a piece of property, and if that’s the case, then I don’t get it. I just don’t get why you don’t see us as human beings first.”


Updated DL Depth Chart

Bennett won’t replace starting DEs DeMarcus Lawrence or Robert Quinn, but he’s a monster pass-rushing upgrade on Crawford. As the depth chart is concerned, he should leapfrog rookie defensive lineman Trysten Hill; the Cowboys reportedly were drawn to Bennett’s position flexibility, his capacity to play end and tackle.

Behind the Big 3 will be dependable backups Kerry Hyder, Dorance Armstrong and Christian Covington. Hyder popped during Dallas’ victory over Philly, notching two tackles and a quarterback hit. Antwaun Woods and Maliek Collins are locked in as the club’s primary DTs, though Bennett is expected to occasionally kick inside.

Lawrence, Quinn and Collins were among numerous players who did not participate in the Cowboys’ bye week practice on Thursday. All three, given rest days, are fully expected to suit up when the team returns to action Monday, Nov. 4 against the New York Giants.


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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL