The Cowboys have made a move that is going to do nothing but fuel speculation, leaving Dallas fans wondering when the next shoe is going to drop. After a Thursday win and a mini-bye, Dallas is getting back to work in preparation for their Week 13 matchup with the Indianapolis Colts. One player who has been on and off in contributing in 2022 will be permanently off, as the club released DE Tarell Basham.
That’s the first shoe, but the second one is what everybody is focused on. Basham hasn’t been much of a contributor this season, dealing with injury and recently being a healthy scratch. The second shoe could be the shiny slipper being carried around town to see who fits it. There’s one obvious addition everyone is thinking about, but it’s likely not a precursor to an Odell Beckham signing.
It won't be free-agent WR Odell Beckham
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There hasn’t been a day over the last month where someone from the Cowboys organization wasn’t talking publicly about the possibility of signing Beckham.
This isn’t the time.
The club has a visit scheduled with Beckham for Monday, December 5. During that visit they will discuss fit, contract specifics and most importantly evaluate his twice-in-20-months torn ACL. All of those things are major hurdles that must be cleared.
And with a game still to play in between time,there’s absolutely no way releasing Basham is related to creating room on the 53-man roster for Beckham.
Could it be for Tyron Smith?
Jul 25, 2021; Oxnard, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys Tyron Smith (77) during training camp at the Marriott Residence Inn. Mandatory Credit: Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports
The Cowboys haven’t had Smith since the preseason, but he’s been seen ramping up after his hamstring tore from the bone in August. Smith will eventually, if not immediately, slide back into the starting lineup at left tackle, where he’s been since his second year in 2012. Along the way he’s earned two First-Team All-Pros and eight Pro Bowl nods including last season.
The Cowboys have played rookie Tyler Smith there in his absence, but the younger will slide inside to left guard, where he spent all offseason, once the elder Smith returns. Dallas allowed the rookie to get some in-game snaps at left guard against Minnesota in a Week 11 blowout.
If Smith is ready to start getting some in-game snaps, that of course requires being on the 53-man roster.
Could it be for James Washington?
Jul 27, 2022; Oxnard, CA, USA; Dallas Cowboys receiver James Washington (83) carries the ball during training camp at the River Ridge Fields. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Washington was the club’s offseason response to trading away Amari Cooper. No, it wasn’t meant to be a one-for-one, but the front office was hopeful Washington would add a deep-play dimension to the passing game.
The problem is he was injured three times in training camp, the latter being a broken right foot. The injury was supposed to be a 6-10 week ordeal, but he’s now been out for 17 weeks.
Head coach Mike McCarthy mentioned that the team wanted to wait until after the three-game-12-days gamut before activating his practice window, but it certainly feels like they’ve just been biding their time.
Washington is just as likely to reach an injury settlement as he is a game-day roster at this point.
It's most likely for Takk McKinley
Aug 22, 2020; Flowery Branch, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons defensive end Takk McKinley loosens up during training camp at the Falcons training facility. Mandatory Credit: Curtis Compton/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports
The Cowboys signed the former first-round Falcons pick to the practice squad, and even elevated him last week prior to the Giants game. In a rare move, Dallas made him inactive for the contest, basically wasting his elevation.
The defensive end plays the same position as Basham, so it’s more than likely the release was to create room for the 2017 pick with 20 career sacks.
... but it could be for Rico Dowdle or Simi Fehoko
Dallas Cowboys running back Rico Dowdle (23) runs against the Los Angeles Chargers during the first half of a preseason NFL football game Saturday, Aug. 20, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Dowdle and Fehoko are down-roster skill position players. The running back beat out UDFA Malik Davis for the third-back role, but was injured before getting any of the meaningful snaps that Davis has had. Fehoko has seen three targets on 36 snaps this season, but the Cowboys are hopeful about his long-term potential.
The other Cowboys on IR are all season-ending injuries, so if it’s not one of the above, then Dallas is elevating a lesser known practice squad guy or signing on outside free agent not named Beckham.