Cowboys Insider Projects UDFA Rookie to Make Final Roster: ‘Strong Position’

Mike McCarthy

Getty Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy looks on during practice.

The Dallas Cowboys have officially begun training camp, which means the first couple of waves of roster cuts are right around the corner.

For the veterans and stars in Dallas, it’s just a tune-up before the regular season. But for the rookies and fringe players, August is all about proving they belong to head coach Mike McCarthy and his staff.

One name that is doing just that in the early days is former Florida A&M safety and undrafted free agent Markquese Bell. Dallas Morning News reporter Michael Gehlken has said as much, explaining that the Cowboys rookie is proving he deserves a spot.

“Very early still. But here at camp’s outset, it is difficult to imagine the Cowboys’ 53-man roster on Aug. 30 not having undrafted rookie S Markquese Bell on it. He is in strong position,” Gehlken wrote on July 28.

When Dallas’ undrafted free agent class was initially announced, Bell was considered to be one of the most talented of the bunch. Now, after a few months of training and in position to prove himself, it appears Bell is very much on the upswing.

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Bell Makes Waves at FAMU

What makes Bell enticing as a player is that he’s very athletic and talented, but very raw and still has places to learn and improve, as writer Lance Zierlein described.

“His movements are unorthodox and lack desired fluidity, but he plays with a burst to close that helps him do his job,” Zierlein wrote in Bell’s draft profile.

Bell entered the 2022 draft class after two seasons at FAMU(school did not play football in 2020) and is coming off an impressive final year. The safety totaled 95 tackles, two sacks and an interception in 2021, which earned him All-SWAC honors.

Bell slipped past the seventh round without being selected, but the Cowboys won him over and he began winning media over. Dallas Morning News reporter Calvin Watkins said one of the best plays of OTAs in May was made by Bell.

“Best defensive play during OTA media availability came from UDFA S Markquese Bell who picked off a QB Cooper Rush pass during team drills on a fourth and 1 inside the 10,” Watkins Tweeted on May 25.

Bell Gets Investment from Cowboys

Many undrafted free agents sign deals that come with minimal signing bonuses or no guaranteed money, but Dallas knew there would be serious competition for Bell. When Bell was signed, Gehlken reported that the UDFA would get a serious amount of guaranteed money.

“Cowboys had strong interest in S Markquese Bell from Florida A&M amid a competitive market Saturday, and that was reflected in the contract to which he agreed,” Gehlken wrote on Twitter on May 2. “Undrafted rookie joined Dallas with a $200,000 guarantee on his salary, plus a $15K signing bonus, source said.”

In the grand scheme of the salary cap, $200,000 is a drop in the pond. But in terms of UDFA contracts, it’s fairly unique for this level of commitment to be made.

Dallas is seriously considering Bell an option for the final roster, which means safeties like Donovan Wilson and Israel Mukuamu need to be on alert for their roster spots.

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