Cowboys Release Pair of Defensive Starters in Ongoing Roster Purge

Jerry Jones

Getty Jerry Jones

The fallout continues in Dallas.

Less than 24 hours after trading Pro Bowl defensive end Everson Griffen to the Detroit Lions, the Cowboys released starting nose tackle Dontari Poe and defensive back Daryl Worley, the team announced Wednesday.

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The transactions were wholly expected after speculation surfaced Monday that Dallas was attempting to unload each of the three players. They got lucky with Griffen, acquiring a 2021 sixth-round pick from Detroit, but could not find any takers for Poe or Worley, both of whom were held out of Wednesday’s practice in a last-ditch effort to drum up value.

Both of whom were also primary culprits on a historically futile Cowboys defense which ranks dead last against the run and in scoring, allowing an egregious 34.7 points per game under embattled coordinator Mike Nolan. The unit has ceded 20-plus first-half points in six consecutive games, an NFL record.

“The facts are that fundamentally, we’re not stopping the run and when you don’t do that, then a lot of other things come in behind that as to what you are lacking. But we got to correct this,” Dallas owner/general manager Jerry Jones said Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan. “We got to correct it. We’ll change some personnel for sure. We just to step in here and make adjustments. That’s what you do.”

Poe, who inked a two-year, $9 million free-agent deal, was supposed to be the anchor of Dallas’ front-seven, helping replace offseason departure Maliek Collins. The two-time Pro Bowler instead looked like a shell of his former self, logging just seven tackles across 266 snaps, often blown off the ball.

Worley signed a one-year contract with the Cowboys in April. Although he wasn’t meant to play starter’s snaps, injuries to Jourdan Lewis, Anthony Brown and Chidobe Awuzie forced him into the outside CB spot opposite rookie Trevon Diggs. Worley made 14 tackles and one pass deflection over seven games (four starts), but was regularly picked on — embarrassed, to put it bluntly — in coverage.

The Cowboys, who saved $3 million via Griffen’s trade, will eat $3.5 million in dead money by cutting Poe and $2 million by chopping Worley, according to OverTheCap.com.

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DT Depth Chart Update

Poe no longer in the picture means rookie DT Neville Gallimore is expected to take on a larger defensive role. Gallimore has registered seven tackles, one tackle-for-loss, and one quarterback hit in five appearances — a credit to Poe, who mentored the third-round selection.

“From a business standpoint, I’m a rookie. I’m new to this,” he said Wednesday when asked about Poe’s impending release, via the Dallas Morning News. “All I know is there’s an opportunity for me to step up personally.”

A low-floor, high-upside prospect, Gallimore (6-2, 304) told reporters he’s fine-tuning several aspects of his game — “the little things” — with his goal of becoming “more effective in the run.” He should receive an immediate opportunity to show his stuff, starting Sunday night against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Antwaun Woods and Justin Hamilton are also slated for an uptick in snaps after the Cowboys now lost Poe as well as 2019 second-rounder Trysten Hill, who suffered a torn ACL in Week 6.


DB Depth Chart Update

Worley … well, that’s addition by subtraction. Brown is a much better corner and Dallas will soon get back starter Awuzie, who’s been stashed away on injured reserve. Diggs has performed well considering the circumstances, while Lewis can man the boundary and the slot if needed.

It’s possible the Cowboys promote a DB — Chris Westry, Deante Burton, or Rashard Robinson — from the practice squad to fortify the back end behind the aforementioned CBs.

Worley was brought aboard to moonlight at safety but never received a significant opportunity. Unless things change there ahead of the Nov. 3 NFL trade deadline, the Cowboys will continue to deploy Xavier Woods and the platooning Darian Thompson-Donovan Wilson tandem.


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Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL