The Dallas Cowboys made 39 moves Saturday, trimming their roster to the NFL-mandated 53 players. Here’s a closer look at the final moves:
Most significant move: Cooper Rush, an undrafted rookie free agent, is set to be the backup to Dak Prescott. For years, the Cowboys invested heavily in veteran free agents such as Brad Johnson, Jon Kitna and Kyle Orton as backups to Tony Romo. Now they will go with Rush, who received a $5,000 signing bonus after not getting drafted. Kellen Moore was released Saturday but could rejoin the Cowboys as soon as Sunday if the Cowboys move tight end Rico Gathers to injured reserve. Had they placed Gathers, who is in the concussion protocol, on injured reserve Saturday, he would not have been able to play in 2017. Moore could simply take Gathers’ spot or be signed to the practice squad. Rush had a strong preseason, completing 38 of 51 passes for 398 yards and six touchdowns in four games.
In a rush: With Damontre Moore (two games) and David Irving (four games) going to the reserve/suspended list, the Cowboys opted to keep eight defensive linemen, which is fewer than normal. It’s likely all eight will be active on game day, with defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli wanting to use a deep rotation of players up front and Tyrone Crawford coming back from an ankle injury. The final spot came down to Charles Tapper, a fourth-round pick last year who did not play because of a back injury, and undrafted Lewis Neal, who had a strong preseason and camp. Tapper won out because of the need for defensive ends in the first two weeks, but the Cowboys will hope to get Neal on the practice squad.
Ultimate insurance: Luke McCown was signed early in camp after Zac Dysert needed back surgery, and McCown played in just one preseason game because of a shoulder injury. With how Rush performed, McCown never had a chance to get into the mix, but it wasn’t all bad. He was guaranteed $250,000 on his one-year deal. And if something happens to Prescott, Moore or Rush early in the season, the Cowboys have a quarterback available who knows their system, and they wouldn't be forced to make a Matt Cassel-type trade, as they did in 2015.
Waived (29): K/P Sam Irwin-Hill, WR Karel Hamilton, WR Lance Lenoir, WR Uzoma Nwachukwu, WR Brian Brown, RB Brandon Brown-Dukes, TE M.J. McFarland, LS Zach Wood, OT Dan Skipper, C Ross Burbank, OG Nate Theaker, OL Kadeem Edwards, WR Andy Jones, TE Blake Jarwin, S Jameill Showers, CB Sammy Seamster, CB Dejaun Butler, CB Marquez White, LB Darnell Leslie, LB Joseph Jones, CB John Green, LB Lamar Louis, LB Kennan Gilchrist, DE Lenny Jones, DL Woody Baron, DT Jordan Carrell, DT Joey Ivie, DT Richard Ash, DL Lewis Neal
Suspended (2): DE Damontre Moore, DE David Irving
Injured reserve (1): Duke Thomas
Injury settlement (1): OT Clay DeBord
Acquired (1): CB Bene Benwikere