It’s time to crunch the numbers about the NFL. Like all other organizations, the Cowboys in Dallas They are in the midst of shrinking their roster from 80 to shrink from the league’s maximum allowed of 53 players. There are a lot of tough decisions to make, but that’s just the nature of the business.
The Cowboys now have to decide who makes the initial 53-man roster and who doesn’t. They also have to decide who is trying to get back into the coaching squad. Like last year, the NFL coaching teams will be set again on 16, however, there are some changes for the 2022 season.
Of the 16 players, at least 10 must be in the “qualified coaching team” category, with up to four of them in their third season on an NFL coaching team. As for the rest of the players eligible to train for the team, they previously only had two years left. Just like the past two seasons, teams can have up to six veteran players with unlimited cumulative seasons in their coaching squad.
One change from last season is that coaching staff can now be upgraded three times during the regular season before they are promoted to the 53-man roster. In 2021, players were only allowed to raise twice. When it comes to post-season, there is no limit to a player’s eligibility to rise from the coaching squad.
With all that in mind, below are the players the Cowboys should try to either keep on their initial 53-man roster or find some way to get them back on the coaching staff.
RB Malik Davis
- Pre-Season 1 week – 29 take (39%)
- Pre-season 2 – 18 shots (33%)
- Pre-Season 3 Week – 38 shots (50%)
Malik Davis has been in a neck and neck battle with Rico Doodle for the RB3 spot behind Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard throughout the season. Both runs were great, but when it comes to crunching numbers, it’s hard to imagine the Cowboys keeping four RBs on their 53-player roster for the 2022 season.
Cutting Davis means putting him at risk of being claimed by someone else on the waiver wire, which is very likely considering his pre-season play. Because of this, it made it unlikely that they would be able to return it to storage in the training squad. Given the uncertain future of Zeke and Pollard next year, it would be wise for Dallas to find some way to keep him in place.
WR Brandon Smith
- Pre-Season 1 week – 29 take (39%)
- Pre-season 2 – 19 shots (35%)
- Season 3 prep week – 34 shots (45%)
When it comes to crunching numbers on a wide receiver for the Cowboys, Brandon Smith isn’t the name you usually see on the final 53-man roster. Despite being one of the most impressive pre-season WRs, at the moment it’s a long shot to turn around. WR sophomore shows a lot of hope, but unfortunately that may not be enough.
The non-designated free agent from Iowa last year is someone the Cowboys will likely want to hide on the coaching staff for the second year in a row. He’s shown a great ability to play this pre-season and that he can be a threat in the red, both of which the Cowboys could use more of a passing game. But if it’s cut, it can be hard to get it back because of all that.
TE Peyton Hendershot
- Preseason 1 week – 26 naps (35%)
- Pre-season 2 – 31 shots (57%)
- Preseason 3 week – 36 naps (47%)
Will the Dallas Cowboys hold three or four tight ends on the final 53-player roster for the 2022 season? Depending on this answer, it could land between Peyton Hendershot and Sean McKeon in last place on the TE roster behind Dalton Schultz and Jake Ferguson. If that’s the case, Hendershot may or may not be the odd guy out.
This year’s unpolished free agent was arguably the Cowboys’ third best TE this year off the season. Rumor has it that he has quite a few fans among the Cowboys coaching staff, which could mean he’s already booked a spot on the roster. However, Dallas has invested two years in McKeon and may not be willing to part with it just yet.
DT John Ridgway
- Season 1 preparatory week – 21 shots (30%)
- Preseason 2 week – 26 naps (35%)
- Pre-Season 3 Week – 47 shots (64%)
The Cowboys’ fifth-round draft pick this year isn’t really someone who has stood out much this season to grab any headlines. But, given the nature of his position, and the role he plays in Dan Quinn’s system, this is not surprising. The Ridgeway is really just a two-line defensive tackle, but it shows enough hope to stick with it.
Unfortunately for him, Dallas has more promising depth in DT than he has at any time in the past few years. For that reason, it could be one of the few draft picks this year that has been caught in a numbers crunch. Ideally, the Cowboys would find some way to keep him on their 53-man roster, but if not, they should make it a priority to bring back the coaching staff.
LB Story Jackson
- Pre-season week 1-49 shots (71%)
- Pre-season 2 – 33 shots (45%)
- Pre-season 3 – 23 shots (31%)
The Dallas Cowboys will likely keep five players, perhaps six at most, on their final list of 53 players this year. With Micah Parsons, Leighton Vander Esch, Anthony Barr, and Jabril Cox already pretty much already, leaving one place or maybe two. For players like Story Jackson, this does not bode well for him as he skips over the final cuts.
Jackson has been an unbelievable free agent this year and likely will compete with Devin Harper and Luke Gifford for one of that shortlisted list. Harper has been impressive this season and Gifford is one of the best Cowboys special teams players. On the other hand, Jackson also played well too, but it’s possible that he’s still on the outside looking inward.