The Dallas Cowboys have finally played their first NFL preseason game, and that means that the first round of cuts are nearing closer.
The Cowboys roster will whittle down from 90 players to just 53 men by the time Week 1 rolls around, and there are many names on the bubble. The situation at wide receiver is one many are watching closely, but nearly every area features position battles.
Speaking of which, USA Today’s Cowboys Wire is predicting some surprise roster cuts Dallas could make. The most prominent name on his list? Defensive end and recent free agency signing Dante Fowler Jr.
Fowler Jr. arrives in Dallas after stints with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams and Atlanta Falcons. However, he’s not walking into a starting role, and Drummond thinks that could lead to the Cowboys bailing on the defensive end.
“Dallas could certainly roll with six DEs, but if they need depth elsewhere, the decision might come down to which veteran looks to be more valuable between these two guys,” Drummond writes. Both [Fowler Jr. and DE Tarell Basham] come with a significant dead money penalty of at least $1 million (Basham: $1.25 million). From a glass-half full perspective, cutting either would result in at least $1.75 million worth of savings.”
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Fowler’s Journey to Dallas
Coming out of Florida, there was significant hype around Fowler Jr.. A prototypical edge rusher, the former Gator had enough tools to warrant the Jaguars drafting him third overall in the 2015 NFL draft.
However, an ACL tear in his rookie season sidelined him and he didn’t exactly produce as a top-3 pick for the Jags. In 39 games with Jacksonville, he totaled 14 sacks according to Pro Football Reference.
However, being traded to the Rams reignited Fowler Jr. In 2019, the 28-year-old totaled 11.5 sacks, and set other personal bests with 40 solo tackles and 16 tackles for loss. This earned him a big-money move to Atlanta, where the defensive end came back down to Earth.
Over 28 appearances for the Falcons, Fowler Jr. totaled 7.5 sacks, but did force four fumbles in that span.
Other Cowboys DE Could Be in Mix for Cut
The logic behind Fowler Jr. being cut is his price plus that he hasn’t made a case to start over Dorance Armstrong. As Spotrac shows, Dallas is only paying Fowler $3 million a year, but that’s still significant amount of money for a backup.
In the Cowboys Wire list, Drummond also list Basham as a potential cut. Basham joined the Cowboys before the 2021 season as a free agent, and chipped in last year with 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble according to PFR.
As mentioned, Basham’s deal features the same guaranteed money for the 2022 year of his contract and they both basically count for the same $3 million salary cap hit this season.
The key to Basham and Fowler Jr.’s roster spots is exactly how much Micah Parsons will be rushing the passer from defensive end. That takes away snaps, and another key factors is second-round pick Sam Williams.
If Williams is impressing the Cowboys staff, it will be hard not to give the rookie as many chances as possible in 2022. Dallas fed Parsons as a rookie last year, and that led to an All-Pro campaign.