Roster Cuts Include Veteran CB Aaron Glenn
Nick Eatman - Email
DallasCowboys.com Staff Writer
September 1, 2007 7:12 PM Change Font Size A A A A
Glenn was scheduled to make $1.7 million in base salary this year, although $500,000 is guaranteed.
IRVING, Texas - Anytime a team has to trim 22 players off its roster, there always seems to be a surprise or two.
And while releasing a 13-year veteran who had started the last three preseason games is surprising enough, it's almost shocking considering it occurs at a position that has the Cowboys worried the most.
But nonetheless, the Cowboys included veteran Aaron Glenn in their list of 21 roster cuts Saturday afternoon at Valley Ranch that trimmed the roster down to the 53-player limit.
Other big moves included the Cowboys placing veteran kicker Martin Gramatica on injured reserve, meaning rookie Nick Folk will enter the season as the team's only place-kicker. Gramatica likely will be given an injury settlement in the next few days for a strained hamstring he suffered Aug. 25 against Houston. The settlement not only means the Cowboys would not be responsible for his $800,000 base salary, but wouldn't be able to re-sign Gramatica for at least six weeks, plus the length of the settlement for his injury.
The Cowboys also cut three outside linebackers, including Junior Glymph, deciding to keep just three on the current roster. And among those three include Greg Ellis, who hasn't practiced since the first day of training camp and is still trying to return from the Achilles injury he suffered last year. Even head coach Wade Phillips said Saturday he is getting "closer" to ruling out Ellis for the Sept. 9 opener against the Giants.
However, Phillips didn't say the same for cornerback Terence Newman, who has missed the last three preseason games with a partial tear in his plantar fascia. And the Cowboys certainly need a healthy Newman, especially after cutting cornerbacks Glenn, Joey Thomas and Quincy Butler.
Glenn signed with the Cowboys in 2005 and reunited with former coach Bill Parcells, who coached him with the New York Jets. He was a steady contributor in the nickel defense for the last two years, leading the Cowboys in interceptions in 2005 with four, including a game-winning pick in the end zone to beat the Chargers in his Cowboys debut.
Glenn hadn't been as consistent in coverage this preseason. When Phillips spoke of the team's concern at the cornerback position and his desire to find a suitable backup for Newman in case his injury lingered, the coach didn't automatically put Glenn as the clear-cut favorite. And maybe that should've been the first sign that his chances of making the team were in jeopardy.
But just because he won't be on the opening-day roster doesn't mean Glenn has played his last game with the Cowboys.
If he is not claimed by another team, the Cowboys could have the option of re-signing him after the first game of the season. NFL rules state that vested veteran such as Glenn is guaranteed a full season of salary if they are on the roster for the first week of the season. Glenn was scheduled to make $1.7 million this season, although $500,000 is guaranteed.
But while Glenn has proven himself as a veteran, he didn't exactly help his cause during the preseason. That wasn't the case for a few players who were also released.
Phillips said earlier on Saturday that the Cowboys released some players who played well in Thursday's 23-14 loss to the Vikings.
Two players from that group would include wide receiver Jerheme Urban, who scored on a 95-yard punt return, and quarterback Matt Moore, who played more than two quarters and engineered a touchdown drive.
The Cowboys also released fullback Lousaka Polite and kept Oliver Hoyte and rookie Deon Anderson on the roster.
Let's take closer look at the current 53-man roster, which of course is subject to change over the next few days. But for now, this is how the roster breaks down, position-by-position.
Summary: For the second straight year, the Cowboys are going with just two quarterbacks. While rookie free agent Matt Moore was impressive at times in preseason, it doesn't make much sense to keep him on the roster, especially with so many concerns at other positions. Moore likely will be re-signed to the practice squad, but if he does get claimed by another team, the Cowboys might consider keeping Richard Bartel on the practice squad.
Running Back (5)
Summary: It's been a while since the Cowboys kept two fullbacks. And if they had more room, they might have kept Lousaka Polite as well. But Hoyte and Anderson are just better on special teams, which usually is the deciding factor in close roster decisions. As for the tailback spot, no surprise here. Now, the only question remains how many carries these guys will get. While Julius Jones has been the starter, Marion Barber has been impressive to the point where it should be a consideration to mix up the lineup. And Tyson Thompson could get some looks, but it's likely his main role will be as a kick returner.
Wide Receiver (6)
Summary: This is one position that might have been predicted accurately from the start of training camp. Glenn, Owens and Crayton have been set as the top three for a while, and Hurd has made himself a close fourth. The Cowboys were never going to part with Stanback, a fourth-round pick who hasn't had time to show his adjustment from a college quarterback to a receiver. Austin is simply better on special teams than Urban, and that likely helped him stick around.
Tight End (3)
Summary: While Witten and Fasano have been locks all along, the same couldn't be said for Curtis, who didn't even open the playbook of the team's new offense until two weeks before training camp after spending the spring in NFL Europa. But Curtis simply outplayed the competition, beating out Adam Bergen and Rodney Hannah. Curtis should also be active each week because of his ability block around the goal line and cover on kickoffs and punts.
Offensive Line (10)
Summary: The Cowboys went a little deep at offensive line, with a backup at every spot. But there isn't much depth on a second team that includes two rookies and a second-year player. And even Cory Procter, who should be the backup center, has yet to play in a regular-season game. But the Cowboys are counting on their starters up front. Tackles Flozell Adams and Marc Colombo have been brought along slowly during camp because of minor knee surgeries this off-season. But both have played the last two games and appear to be ready for the season opener.
Defensive Line (6)
Summary: No surprises with first five spots. The only question was backup nose tackle, and while three young players had the chance to earn the spot, Wade Phillips said all along he could use Ratliff in that role. And although Remi Ayodele showed some promise, it wasn't enough to keep a roster spot. The Cowboys also like the versatility of Bowen, who can play both end and tackle if needed.
Summary: This might be the lightest position on the team, especially considering two players are injured and possibly questionable to play in the opener. By releasing Junior Glymph, the Cowboys have only three true outside linebackers in Ellis, Ware and Spencer, though Carpenter has worked there as well. Burnett (ankle) and Ellis (Achilles) did not practice on Saturday but Phillips isn't ruling either player out for the first game.
Summary: The move to release Glenn is more surprising because of the injury and depth concerns at this position. The Cowboys have their fingers crossed that Newman will be ready, but if not, look for Reeves to get the start. Keeping Jones is surprising considering he hasn't played much on defense the last two weeks. Ball, a seventh-round pick from Illinois, has some upside, but probably won't be counted on to contribute right away.
Summary: Some teams probably didn't have six safeties on their roster last week, much less at the start of the regular season. But again, it comes down to special teams. Davis and Elam will play on just about every package in the kicking game, and look for Brown to get some chances too. Like they did with Ball, the Cowboys probably kept Brown for potential and upside. He made some really nice plays in the preseason.
Summary: The Cowboys might not be ecstatic about entering the season with a rookie kicker, but don't have much of a choice. With the injury to Gramatica, the Cowboys are turning it over to Folk, who has been consistent in the limited opportunities he's received. If Folk struggles, the Cowboys could look to a veteran, but it likely won't be Gramatica, who should get an injury settlement that would prevent him from returning for at least half of the regular season.
Here is a complete list of the Cowboys' roster moves to reach the 53-man limit:
K Martin Gramatica
CB Aaron Glenn
LB John Saldi
QB Matt Moore
WR Jerheme Urban
DT Remi Ayodele
WR Mike Jefferson
QB Richard Bartel
CB Quincy Butler
DE Marcus Smith
TE Rodney Hannah
RB Alonzo Coleman
LB Khari Long
OL Matt Tarullo
G Trey Darilek
LB Junior Glymph
WR Damarius Bilbo
CB Joey Thomas
FB Lousaka Polite
LB Blair Phillips
TE Adam Bergen
RB Arliss Beach