Veterans on the bubble: Cowboys players fighting for jobs this summer


The Dallas Cowboys have several veteran players who will need to step up at training camp if they want to keep their spot on the roster this summer.

DALLAS — The football season is rapidly approaching, and it begins with training camp in late July. For the Dallas Cowboys, a quiet offseason can quickly be forgotten if the team, unlike the front office, can show signs of life this summer. 

With camp on the horizon, it might not be good news for some veterans who are hoping to hang onto a job. As one of the best drafting teams in the league, and an organization that often finds gems with their undrafted free agents, it won’t be a given for everyone who was a Cowboy last year to make the roster for the 2024 campaign.

Here are five veteran players who will have to fight to retain their spot:

Chauncey Golston, DL

Golston was a third-round selection in the 2021 draft but has failed to make himself a part of the regular rotation at either defensive end or tackle, despite being moved between the two positions. It feels like the coaches are trying to find the right place for Golston, and he hasn’t helped them make the decision. That’s a bad sign going into year four. 

In three seasons with the Cowboys, Golston only has 3.5 sacks and just three tackles for a loss. The veteran’s snap count was at its highest as a rookie and has failed to climb past 29% in each of the last two seasons, which demonstrates that Golston isn’t earning his way onto the field. 

Golston does have added value on special teams but with a new defensive coaching staff, he’s no lock to make the roster. It’s going to take a good training camp and preseason showing for Golston to keep his place with the Cowboys.

Chuma Edoga, OL

Another versatile player for the Cowboys, only Edoga resides on the offensive side of the ball. The veteran will begin camp as the top swing tackle option for the offensive line, but the former USC standout’s hold on the job could be short-lived.

Dallas continues to show faith in Edoga, re-signing him in the offseason, yet the team also selected two offensive tackles in the 2024 draft to stockpile their young talent at the position. The Cowboys used their first-round pick on Tyler Guyton and a sixth-round selection Nathan Thomas in an effort to bolster the unit.

Edoga has been a serviceable player for the Cowboys, starting six games last season, but if a few of the young linemen improve this summer, he might not stay on the roster. The team could save a little bit of their precious cap space by going with a younger option and cutting the veteran tackle. 

Edoga’s main competition is Josh Ball, Matt Waletzko and Asim Richards, each who have been drafted in the fourth or fifth rounds in the last few drafts. Ball and Waletzko have had issues staying healthy, but Richards could be on the way up in his sophomore season.

The Cowboys trust Edoga, but they also have a bevy of younger options who could take the veteran’s job with a strong summer.

Nahshon Wright, CB

The team surprised many in the draft community by using a third-round selection on Wright in 2021, and the cornerback has done little to reward the Cowboys for their faith. Wright has just one interception in his first three seasons and played a paltry 7% of the defensive snaps last year. That’s not a good sign for a player that the team had high hopes for being a scouting success.

Dallas used a sixth-round pick on Eric Scott last year, and selected Caelen Carson in the fifth round of April’s draft in an effort to infuse more youth at the position. Both players could have an inside track at winning the job over Wright. Carson was expected to be picked higher and the Cowboys believe that they have a steal in the former Wake Forest CB.

Like Golston, Wright’s calling card to make the roster has been his work on special teams, where he played 75% of the snaps last season. 

However, the now veteran corner could be on his last legs in Dallas. Wright had a fan in former defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, but he still had trouble getting on the field. Now new DC Mike Zimmer arrives with no ties to Wright, which could spell the end of an experiment that hasn’t worked out.

Carl Davis, DT

One of the first moves that the Cowboys made this offseason was to re-sign the veteran DT Davis. While that elicited some mock cheers from fans, it did signal that the team likes what Davis can bring on the interior of the defensive line. 

Even so, Davis’ roster spot doesn’t feel safe. The Cowboys expect Mazi Smith and Osa Odighizuwa to be their starters on the inside, and drafted Justin Rogers in the seventh-round to eat up space in the middle. The team also signed Illinois DT Denzel Daxon as an undrafted free agent to compete with Davis and others for a roster spot. Rogers and Daxon both profile as big-bodied run stuffers in the mold of Johnathan Hankins, who the team lost in free agency.

The Cowboys will also be looking to move last year’s fourth-round pick Viliami Fehoko, or this year’s second-round selection Marshawn Kneeland, into the rotation at DT. 

There’s a lot of uncertainty in the middle for the Cowboys after their starters and Davis hasn’t done much in his career to be certain that his roster spot is safe. The team added three options this offseason to compete with Davis, and possibly push him off the 53-man roster.

Peyton Hendershot, TE

The Cowboys didn’t use a high pick on a tight end in April’s draft, but they did add one as an undrafted free agent with Brevyn Spann-Ford joining the crowded TE room. That could spell trouble for Hendershot, who many felt would make a big jump in his second season in 2023. It never happened for Hendershot, whose injuries took their toll last year, and he failed to live up to the hype.

Jake Ferguson’s spot as the top TE on the roster is secure and if he continues to break out as the top option, playing time behind him could diminish. Luke Schoonmaker is the No. 2 TE and a second-round pick who the team still believes in despite a slow rookie year.

Spann-Ford was one of the biggest undrafted free agent finds from around the league. The Cowboys gave Spann-Ford significant guaranteed money to bring him in and compete for a roster spot. The Cowboys also have last year’s undrafted TE free agent revelation John Stephens, who is returning from injury to provide more competition for Hendershot. 

Which veteran player do you think is in the most danger of losing their spot? Share your thoughts with Ben on X (formerly Twitter) @BenGrimaldi.