Cowboys Have Promising Rookie Poached by Rival in Failed Gamble

Mike McCarthy

Getty Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy looks on during an NFL game.

The Dallas Cowboys released rookie defensive tackle John Ridgeway as part of the team’s roster gymnastics prior to the Week 2 matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Cowboys made the move to open up a spot for quarterback Will Grier to move up to the active roster in hopes that the team would be able to re-sign the defender after he passed through waivers.

Not only did Dallas strike out, but the team’s rival in Washington claimed Ridgeway. The Dallas Morning News’ Michael Gehlken reported that the Commanders were just one of several teams to put in a claim for the rookie.

“Cowboys hoped to re-sign NT John Ridgeway to practice squad this afternoon. But they lost him. Commanders were awarded Ridgeway on waivers,” Gehlken tweeted on September 19. “They weren’t the only team to submit a claim on the rookie fifth-round pick from Arkansas either, a person close to situation said.”


Quinn on Ridgeway: ‘Has All the Traits of a Really Good Nose Tackle in Our League’

Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn admitted to being disappointed that Dallas was unable to re-sign Ridgeway. Quinn explained that losing Ridgeway is part of the “consequences when you have a big, deep crew” on the defensive line.

“Yes, absolutely [disappointed]. I really have a lot of belief in John, and I think he’ll do great, I really do,” Quinn explained during a September 19 press conference. “He’s tough, he’s strong and that’s kind of the consequences when you have a big, deep crew. but John has all the traits of a really good nose tackle in our league and I think he’ll do fantastic. I’m bummed that he’s not here, but we’ll definitely keep tabs with him and make sure we’re always supporting him.”


The Cowboys Selected Ridgeway in the 5th Round of the 2022 NFL Draft

At 6’5″ and 321 pounds, Ridgeway is a big, strong run-stopping specialist who shined at Arkansas. The Cowboys selected Ridgeway in the fifth round with the No. 178 overall pick of the 2022 NFL draft. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein compared Ridgeway to Quinton Dial heading into the draft, describing the defender as a “rotational lineman with upside.”

“College nose tackle with the size and length for consideration along the interior or as an odd front defensive end,” Zierlein wrote in his pre-draft profile. “Ridgeway is more wrestler than gap-eater when taking on blocks as a nose. He’s likely to be coveted by traits-based evaluators eager to develop the physical ingredients into a more polished product.

“While most of his experience has come at nose tackle, the sum of his parts might make more sense as a 3-4 defensive end, where his long arms and natural power would become more beneficial as an edge-setter. Regardless of position, he won’t offer much help as a pass rusher, so rotational lineman with upside is likely to become his tag as a Day 3 prospect.”

The Cowboys could square off against Ridgeway if the rookie is able to crack the Commanders defensive line rotation. Dallas faces Washington on October 2 and January 8 this season.

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