Cowboys Add Former Seahawks WR to 53-Man Roster, Release Veteran LB

Malik Turner

Getty Malik Turner

There’s a reason it’s referred to as the “initial 53-man roster.” Because things can, and do, change immediately after final cuts.

The Dallas Cowboys took part in the post-deadline chaos Sunday, claiming wide receiver Malik Turner off waivers from the Green Bay Packers, the team announced.

In a corresponding move, needing to create a roster spot, the Cowboys released veteran linebacker Joe Thomas.

Turner, 24, entered the NFL in 2018 as an undrafted free agent signed by the Seattle Seahawks. He appeared in 21 games from 2018-19, catching 17 passes on 25 targets for 265 yards (15.6 yards per reception) and one touchdown.

Seattle rescinded Turner’s exclusive rights tender this past April, sending him to free agency. He signed with Green Bay on Aug. 12 and was released Saturday.

Turner (6-3, 200) played collegiately at Illinois, where he was a four-year contributor, tallying 143 receptions for 1,804 yards and 10 TDs.

Thomas was on his second Cowboys stint, after originally spending the 2015 campaign with the club. A reserve ‘backer, he made 33 tackles (21 solo) and a pass breakup across 15 games last season.

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Turner’s Fit

Assuming he survives going forward, Turner won’t be ticketed for many offensive snaps, buried on the depth chart under Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, CeeDee Lamb, Cedrick Wilson, Noah Brown, and Ventell Bryant. The group is a little nicked up, however.

Bryant sustained a PCL sprain and may land on the short-term injured reserve list, the Dallas Morning News’ Michael Gehlken reported. Cooper missed a handful of team drills during the final practices of training camp. What’s plaguing the Pro Bowler remains unclear, but he’s expected to be fine for Sunday’s season-opener at Los Angeles.

Turner, who’s familiar with Cowboys special teams coordinator John Fassel, theoretically should contribute on the third side of the ball (he logged 170 ST snaps for the Seahawks in 2019) while rounding out the WR corps.

Replacing Thomas

The Cowboys won’t have to. As Gehlken put it, Thomas’ release was “purely procedural.” He will avoid waivers, soon re-sign to the active roster, and play against the Rams.

Dallas carried just five LBs into Week 1 — Thomas, Leighton Vander Esch, Sean Lee, Jaylon Smith, and Luke Gifford. Lee reportedly is headed to IR, where he’ll be sidelined a minimum of three games. To provide insurance, the club is likely to bring back vested veteran Justin March, whom they chopped at final cuts.

Speaking of which, the Cowboys on Sunday managed to reunite with impressive undrafted rookie LB Francis Bernard, who was surprisingly waived Saturday. Bernard went through waivers unclaimed and reverted to the practice squad. It’s a good bet he’s eventually promoted to the 53, if protected from prying eyes.

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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL