IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys waived fullback Lawrence Vickers on Friday afternoon.
Vickers, who had back surgery this offseason, was the only fullback on the current roster.
The move suggests the Cowboys may rely more on an H-Back position in their blocking scheme, an idea alluded to when the team signed tight end Dante Rosario in early June.
The decision to release Vickers should save the Cowboys roughly $1.2 million on the salary cap, as he was slated to make $1.3 million in the final year of his contract, which expired at the end of the 2013 season.
Vickers played in all 16 games in 2012 but only started six. He had three carries for 11 yards, and he caught 13 passes for 104 yards. He has played seven seasons in the NFL — five with Cleveland and one each with Houston and Dallas, respectively, after playing his college career for Colorado.
Cowboys’ running back coach Gary Brown was Vickers’ position coach during his most productive spell with the Browns.
The move opens up a roster spot for the Cowboys, who have 89* players on the roster with just one week until training camp.
Vonta Leach is easily the top fullback in free agency at this point, though it’s doubtful he would sign with the Cowboys. Leach made roughly $1.3 million with Baltimore during the 2012 season, and he is reportedly seeking a multi-year contract at his next stop.
RELATED: Focus on tight ends crystallized with release of fullback Vickers
The Dallas Cowboys move to tight end-focused offense was made complete Friday with the release of fullback Lawrence Vickers.
The move saved the Cowboys $1.2 million, Vickers’ salary next season.
It was also not surprising. Vickers had been on the roster bubble since draft in April when the Cowboys drafted tight end Gavin Escobar in the second round and promised to move to a two-tight end attack with Pro Bowler Jason Witten.
The team will likely use the H-back in their blocking scheme as well as the Cowboys also have veteran tight ends James Hanna and Dante Rosario on the roster.
It didn’t help that Vickers missed the offseason because of back surgery, allowing the team to work without a fullback in minicamp and OTAs. It also didn’t help that the Cowboys rushed for the fewest yards in team history last year _ Vickers only year with team.
The team simply waited until he was healthy after rehab to release him, one week before reporting to training camp July 19.
Vickers appeared in all 16 games for Dallas in 2012 with six starts. He originally signed with Dallas on March 14, 2012.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The roster count may be down to 88 players. It’s been reported by the NFL website (and since removed) that the Cowboys have also waived 2nd year DT Rob Callaway. Waiting on official confirmation from the Dallas Cowboys before posting the roster update.
THE DELICATE BALANCE: Veteran Anthony Hargrove adds defensive line depth, but youth must eventually take over
Currently, three of the four projected starting linemen are at least 30, and defensive end Anthony Spencer is 29.
Hargrove turns 30 in July.
The Dallas Cowboys didn’t address the defensive line in the draft but did so in free agency with the signing of Hargrove.
Jason Hatcher is in the final year of his contract, and he turns 31 in July.
Spencer, who doesn’t turn 30 until next January, is playing on the franchise tag and talks have slowed down regarding a new deal. Hatcher and Spencer could play elsewhere in 2014.
As for Jay Ratliff, the defensive tackle who will battle centers and guards this season, he will turn 32 in August. Do you remember the man Ratliff replaced? Jason Ferguson was 32 when he suffered an arm injury early in the 2007 season, opening the door for Ratliff to become the full-time starter. Health and age dooms NFL players all the time.
Ratliff is coming off an injury-filled 2012 season and it’s assumed this could be his last season with the Cowboys given his age and how his health betrayed him last season.
DeMarcus Ware isn’t going anywhere. Ware, however, turns 31 in July and is coming back from shoulder surgery and a dislocated elbow.
Age isn’t on the Cowboys’ side when it comes to the defensive line. While it’s good to have Hargrove provide depth as someone who can play end and tackle in the 4-3, the future is uncertain for this position.
Based on the offseason moves by the Cowboys, the defensive line is geared for the here and now, not for the future. The Cowboys had a chance to address the defensive line in the draft but expressed support for what they currently have.
That’s fine, but at some point youth must take over.