Cowboys Shaky Ground: Who's On Notice?

Outside of the true stars and superstars in the league, most players don’t have the type of job security to feel comfortable. Here’s a look at several Cowboys players who will need to put their best feet forward in the offseason workouts and upcoming training camp when their turns in the drills come up.

Outside of the true stars and superstars in the league; most players in the league don’t have the type of job security to feel comfortable with. Veteran players are always looking over their shoulders as the team drafts and signs younger counterparts, itching to get their shot at the big time and earn playing time. The Cowboys roster is no different. For various reasons, there are always a handful of players who, although under contract, are not guaranteed to make it to the 53 man roster come September.

The NFL Draft is now less than two weeks away, and when it concludes, the depth charts at several positions will have new blood infused. Here’s a look at several players who will need to put their best feet forward in the offseason workings and upcoming training camp when their turns in the drills come up.

THE UNLIKELY’S

POSITION PLAYER
DEAD MONEY/
CONTRACT END
2015 CAP SAVINGS

S

BARRY CHURCH

$1m / ‘16

$2.25m

Church is a solid 5-year vet who the Cowboys have groomed from a Special Teams, UDFA into a guy that has started all games each of the past two seasons.So why in the world would he be at risk? Many feel that 2013 draft pick J.J. Wilcox is better suited as the box safety, and if Dallas chooses to go for a centerfielder early in the draft (ASU’s Demarious Randall was brought in for a visit) the club could look to saving some space here by jettisoning Church and going young. It’s doubtful he’ll go anywhere, but should the perfect storm arise, there might be troubled waters here.

POSITION PLAYER
DEAD MONEY/
CONTRACT END
2015 CAP SAVINGS

MLB

ROLANDO McCLAIN

$500k* / ‘15

$2.3125m

The Cowboys weren’t shy about letting it be known they weren’t gung ho about bringing back McClain. At the last minute, when interest was shown by New England, the club offered McClain an incentive deal that requires him to be active on game-days in order to gain the majority of his contract money. It’s just a one-year deal, so there is no long-term investment. Should the club find their linebacker of the future in the early rounds, and then discover they have great depth in camp, McClain could be walked away from for just $750k (an additional $250k workout bonus would kick in by training camp). Another unlikely move, but stranger things have occurred.

POSITION PLAYER
DEAD MONEY/
CONTRACT END
2015 CAP SAVINGS

DE

JEREMY MINCEY

$450k / ‘15

$1.3m

Mincey led the club in sacks last season, which is akin to being the best seat on the Titanic. He should be playing left defensive end and moonlighting as a backup undertackle, but was forced to play on the weakside for much of the season. However, the club has brought in Greg Hardy to be the sack master and expects great things from Demarcus Lawrence who will play strongside DE this year. If the club is highly impressed with what “sticks to the wall” from some younger draft prospects, there’s an (very) outside chance Mincey would see the door.

THE NERVOUS ONES

POSITION PLAYER
DEAD MONEY/
CONTRACT END
2015 CAP SAVINGS

P

CHRIS JONES

$0 / ‘15

$1.542m

Chris Jones has his fair share of critics, despite being middle of the road when it comes to punting performance in the league. However, his restricted tender offer could be replaced with a league minimum salary and save a net of around $1m if a suitable replacement is found in training camp.

POSITION PLAYER
DEAD MONEY/
CONTRACT END
2015 CAP SAVINGS

RB

LANCE DUNBAR

$0 / ‘15

$1.542m

There’s no question Dunbar is the fastest and one of the most explosive players on the team. The question is whether or not the club will find a way to utilize him. The loss of Dwayne Harris means he will get a chance to compete for kickoff return duties, but Dallas failed to get him involved in the offense more often because his inability to run between the tackles. Was that on Bill Callahan or by design by Scott Linehan. It will be interesting to see if his unique skillset is appreciated or seen as something they can do without.

POSITION PLAYER
DEAD MONEY/
CONTRACT END
2015 CAP SAVINGS

CB

COREY WHITE

$0 / ‘15

$1.542m

White was signed in the offseason as insurance at the CB position. He was cut by New Orleans, so to his benefit, releasing him wouldn’t enter into a compensatory pick equation. He was signed, however, to a deal at the same tender level and didn’t receive any signing bonus. Should the club bring in at least one and possibly two corners in the draft, White could be seen as expendable based on camp competition.

POSITION PLAYER
DEAD MONEY/
CONTRACT END
2015 CAP SAVINGS

RB

DARREN MCFADDEN

$200k / ‘16

$950,000

Does he have anything left in the tank? He’ll have a chance to prove it in camp. However there is expected to be heavy competition at the position and no one should assume his draft pedigree or prior status as a starter guarantees him a roster spot. National media thinks he was brought in to replace DeMarco Murray, but he should be looked at as competition for Joseph Randall, an important distinction. A high draft pick could see McFadden looking elsewhere for employment in 2015.

POSITION PLAYER
DEAD MONEY/
CONTRACT END
2015 CAP SAVINGS

DT

TERRELL MCCLAIN

$200k / ‘16

$900,000

McClain’s first year in Dallas was non-descript with just one sack and 14 tackles in 13 games and zero starts. Should the club feel comfortable with the stockpile of young guys already on the roster, plus who they augment the depth with via the draft, McClain could see his run with the team come to an end.

POSITION PLAYER
DEAD MONEY/
CONTRACT END
2015 CAP SAVINGS

DT

JOSH BRENT

$0 / ‘15

$745,000

Brent’s situation is well-chronicled. After being given a second chance, he must prove that he is worth a roster spot this year. He faces the same youthful competition as T. McClain and will have to prove he has what it takes to be an important piece in Rod Marinelli’s RushMen, even as they reportedly will show more concern with stopping the run in 2015.



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