Cowboys fans anxiously await their team’s decision on the roster security of wide receiver Amari Cooper and defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence.
But in the interim, Dallas made five roster moves on Friday including severing ties with two key players.
The Cowboys released kicker Greg Zuerlein and designated tight end Blake Jarwin as waived/injured.
Jarwin’s move became increasingly expected at the NFL scouting combine last week, when head coach Mike McCarthy ominously listed off his tight end depth without including Jarwin, whose rights Dallas held for two more seasons. Jarwin underwent offseason hip surgery recently and could need further operation; people in the Cowboys organization have described his recovery road as potentially career-threatening with implications for his quality of life beyond his football career. Two remained on his four-year contract that was worth up to $22 million, but the deal contained no further seasons guaranteed money. The Cowboys could be on the hook for an injury settlement, however.
In five with Dallas, Jarwin has caught 70 passes for 780 yards and eight touchdowns seasons. But a torn ACL in the 2020 season opener, and a 2021 hip injury that eventually prompted the recent surgery, sidelined Jarwin for 24 games through the last two years.
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Zuerlein joined the Cowboys in 2020 alongside special teams coordinator John Fassel, whom the veteran had worked with during eight seasons playing for the Rams. Zuerlein was dependable with the Rams, connecting on 82% of field goal attempts (201 of 245) and 97.8% of extra-point attempts (264 of 270), highlighted by an All-Pro 2017 season in which he successfully booted 95% of his attempts through the uprights.
His 2021 performance, following offseason back surgery, dipped: Zuerlein missed six field goal attempts and six extra-point attempts despite coaches’ insistence he was healthy and capable.
“I think it is psychological,” Fassel said entering the Cowboys’ wild-card playoff game. “The biggest part is having the confidence that this is going right down the middle every time.”
He declined to agree that Zuerlein was on the downswing and at 34 years old no longer capable of performing adequately.
“You can tell when a ball gets toed there isn’t that same impact,” Fassel said. “Is the trajectory lower coming off the foot compared to what it used to be? This season in practice, Greg’s practice production has really been how it’s always been, to be honest with you. The sound coming off the foot is the same, the trajectory is the same, the power is the same, the accuracy is the same.
“I believe in Greg and I’m not supporting him just because of my experience over the last 10 years. This is a production business and when we stop producing, things change.
“But I just have full faith in Greg. I do.”
The Cowboys also released receiver Robert Foster on Friday. The team waived running back Ito Smith and defensive back Reggie Robinson.
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein,