Dallas Cowboys fans can be forgiven for being a tad skeptical. They do have a bit of a history of cutting players who get picked up by other teams. For this year’s Cowboys roster cuts, that may happen again. That goes for the cuts fans might expect, and those that might catch them off guard.

Because the Cowboys are considered America’s Team, the focus is usually more pronounced here. There is no way around reality, however. Cuts have to be made, and here are a few Cowboys roster cuts that might be surprising for some fans.

3. Malik Davis

Malik Davis has so many fans feeling anxious. He has performed admirably in his few opportunities, but he is also ranked fourth on the RB totem pole. Rico Dowdle is more skilled on special teams right now, and Dallas carrying four running backs would be quite unusual. The Cowboys also have Aaron Shampklin at running back, but he left Friday’s preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks with an injury after rushing the ball 13 times for 54 yards.

Meanwhile, Davis impressed in the Cowboys’ preseason games. His performances have placed pressure on the team’s decision-makers. Against the Denver Broncos, the former Gators running back had eight carries for 51 yards. Davis followed this up by scoring his first touchdown and gaining 37 yards on eight attempts against the Los Angeles Chargers and then rushing the ball 15 times for 44 yards against Seattle.

Again, keep in mind that the Cowboys are unlikely to retain all these running backs, with four even being a stretch. Should Dallas choose to keep that many, Davis should be included.

Having said that, it is more probable that they’ll keep just three and have Davis among the Cowboys’ roster cuts. As such, the RB3 spot will likely come down to Rico Dowdle or Davis. Truthfully, Dowdle would likely be preferred by the coaches due to his special teams expertise, but Davis is making things tough.

2. C.J. Goodwin

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Cornerback C.J. Goodwin is an intriguing case study. He essentially provides nothing to the defense while being one of the top special teams players in the league and probably in recent Cowboys history. As a CB on the Cowboys, Goodwin has three sure-fire starters ahead of him. He also has three young prospects chosen in the second, third, and fifth rounds of recent drafts. There just may be too many corners on the Cowboys’ roster as the season closes in.

Of course, Dallas can let Goodwin walk. He might even be released only to be recalled once the team places someone on returnable IR after the first 53. Alternatively, he could also be released, added to the practice squad, and become a gameday call-up.

In other words, the Cowboys have the option of cutting him to create a place for injured players like James Washington or even Michael Gallup on the original 53-man roster before transferring them to IR. Once on injured reserve, they may re-sign a guy like Goodwin to get back into the lineup. It’s a tactic Dallas has used before. Don’t be surprised to see it again, especially with the special teams stud at the core of it.

1. Carlos Watkins

Carlos Watkins is a good veteran defensive lineman. In fact, he had the team’s first thick-6 in 2021. Still, he might get caught in a numbers game and end up among the Cowboys’ roster cuts before Week 1.

Take note that he didn’t sign for a lot of money in the offseason, opting for a one-year veteran deal. He would undoubtedly pose some risk, but if the Cowboys wanted to have a temporary roster spot in order to make room for someone moved to returnable IR, retaining Watkins could be a viable option.

Prior to training camp, Watkins would have been the obvious choice as the No. 2 left defensive tackle behind Osa Odighizuwa. Right now, however, it’s arguably more shocking that a now-healthy Trysten Hill has been doing well in a major way. Hill also had a massive strip sack and recovery against the Chargers backups. That’s after struggling early in his career and missing much of last season with an injury. If Watkins does end up getting cut, it’s because of Hill’s sudden emergence.

Watkins was actually pretty good with the Cowboys last season, but this is a team that will rely on youthful talent to take a step forward at defensive tackle. As a result, the seasoned Watkins just may not have room on the opening week roster. We’ll see what the Cowboys decide.