By: Joe D.
This will read like a love song to Patrick Crayton. Crayton has been a consumate professional during his tenure with Dallas. While he may have opened his mouth at times, I never objected to his statements. Crayton was originally drafted in the 7th round in 2004. He has been remarkably productive for a late round pick, especially since he has been demoted at every opportunity.
Crayton has limited value in regards to trade value. It’s not outside the rhealm of possibility, however. He has a managable contract, and can play a variety of positions, from punt returner, slot receiver, and #2 WR. A team won’t trade for him since he will probably be cut (barring injury to the other WR’s on the staff). Why pay for something that you can otherwise get free.
Crayton isn’t the fastest, biggest, tallest, nor most talented player on the field (unless he’s coaching pee-wee football). He has good hands, and runs solid routes. He doesn’t give up on plays (regardless of the counter argument that he gave up on the route against the Giants in the playoffs). He is a solid veteran who has several years of productivity remaining.
Crayton is not participating in organized team activities. This is a benefit for him as he will avoid injury. It’s a benefit to the Cowboys who will be able to funnel additional repetitions to younger players. Some may view Crayton as throwing a tantrum, but this is as far from the truth as possible.
Ideally for Crayton, he will land with a competitive team in need of depth at the WR position. Barring injury to starting players, I actually see him landing with a team with young WR’s where Crayton will act as a mentor while providing production on the field. The following are potential landing spots for Crayton based upon the above criteria.
Bengals: Cincy added Matt Jones and Antonio Bryant. The Bengals have been a repository for former Cowboys. With the two WR’s that were added, Crayton would certainly be a stabilizing force. At least he would be eligible to play throughout the entire year. I doubt Cincy is an option.
Browns: The Browns have Cribbs as their return man. While the Browns have purged their talent (Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow) recently, they have drafted several young players, Mohamed Massaquoi, Brian Robiskie, etc. This wouldn’t be a perfect fit for Crayton, but I certainly could see him being productive for several years while mentoring the Browns young talent. Robiskie is the son of former Redskins Head Coach, Terry Robiskie. He is fundamentally sound, but lacked production. I think this would be an ideal landing for Crayton. The quarterback situation in Cleveland is less than desirable. Crayton is a veteran WR, 31 years old, and he may not have enough time left in his career to wait for Colt McCoy to become a competent QB.
Steelers: The Steelers fans hate the Cowboys and their fans. Those who are ignorant of this fact and root for the Steelers are excused. Now that you know, you have to decide on the Cowboys or the Steelers. You can’t be fans of both teams (you hear that Sean Lee, Lee’s family and my brother). Otherwise, the Steelers have shipped out a Super Bowl MVP, Santonio Holmes, and Limas Sweed suffered an achilles injury. Certainly the Steelers now have a void. They presently have ten WR’s on their roster, so it is not an imperative that they add additional talent. Crayton would certainly prefer moving to a championship caliber team, but I doubt the the Steelers have a significant interest in Crayton.
Texans: The Texans only have 7 listed WR’s, though Dorin Dickerson is a TE. Considering that, they only have 6 WR’s, of which Andre Johnson is the only feared WR. Jacoby Jones is a talented speedster that has minimal production over the past three years. He may be on the verge of a breakout like Miles Austin had last year, but this may be a good landing spot for Crayton. Houston is close to Dallas (if he elected to commute), and they have a good QB.
Jaguars: The Jaguars have several no name WR’s (as they cut Torry Holt). The Jags best WR, Mike Sims-Walker, was equally as productive as Crayton in 2009. I think Crayton would be a good addition to the Jags roster, though I believe the Jags are more interested in developing their young talent like Mike Thomas and Jarett Dillard. If they wanted a veteran presence on the team, they would have kept Holt who had a sub-par year.
Bills: Terrell Owens found refuge in Buffalo last year. Crayton won’t be as lucky. The Bills don’t have a dynamic passing game, and he would be buried on the play progression. Running game would be pre-dominant, then the first look to Evans, then Reed, and then the QB is sacked.
Dolphins: Both Parcells and Sparano are familiar with Crayton. The Dolphins traded for Brandon Marshall and Davone Bess had a breakout season (76 receptions, 758 yards). There may be room for Crayton as a slot WR, but I think the Dolphins would consider bring Crayton in if they were competing for a Super Bowl. I think they are a few years away from competing at a high level.
Patriots: Crayton would be an upgrade over Julian Edelman as a slot WR. Wes Welker will be rehabbing for much of the season from his knee injury. While Crayton wouldn’t be expensive, I don’t see the Patriots paying three players for one position on the team. Most may see depth, though I think the Patriots see redundancy. As a side note, I was pleased that Isaiah Stanback only had 3 receptions last year with the Patriots. That’s not sour grapes towards Stanback, but it would have killed me a little if this was a repeat of Jimmy Smith.
Raiders: The Raiders would be well served to have someone on their team who can find the holes in zone coverage and can catch the ball. I hear Crayton runs a 4.5 forty time, which is about .2 seconds too long for the Raiders.
Bears: Crayton would be a welcome addition to a team with questionable talent at the WR position. Knox is a speedster; Hester is productive; but two of their top three receivers were a TE and RB. If Favre doesn’t return to the Vikings, the division will be up for grabs, and Chicago could compete with for the division.
Panthers: The Panthers have a mix of youth and veterans to mentor the former. Crayton will not be singing Sweet Caroline, unless he goes to a Pitt game.
Buccaneers: The Bucs drafted Arrelious Benn and Mike Williams. With Antonio Bryant not being signed, their remaining WRing crew totaled 47 receptions. Crayton would be a welcome addition the Buc’s QB, Josh Freeman. One questions for the Bucs, why would you take a WR who quit on his team in the 3rd round. He may have been the most talented player to come out of Buffalo in a long time, but isn’t that like being the prettiest leper?
Redskins: If the Redskins were to sign both Crayton and Terrell Owens, they would certainly look for revenge against the organization who choose ROY WILLIAMS over both of them. The Redskins have young WR’s (Malcolm Kelly, Devin Thomas), but they aren’t feared. They have old WR’s (Joey Galloway, Santana Moss), but they aren’t feared. Crayton would certainly receive some playing time considering that group. I could see Crayton in a Redskin uniform, though it would break my heart just a bit. I feel no pity for McNabb, but I almost hope (almost), that he has at least one target besides Cooley who will catch the ball.
Rams: Crayton would be a solid #2 WR across from Donnie Avery. Danny Amendola (43 receptions, 326 yards) would stay in the slot. This would be a god awful situation for Crayton considering a rookie QB and a losing franchise.
And the least likely option is:
Cowboys: Presently on the Cowboys roster are Miles Austin (who has a history of injuries), Roy Williams (who has a history of underachieving), Dez Bryant (who has no history at the pro-level), Sam Hurd (top special teamer with limited offensive production), Kevin Ogletree (impressive 2nd year player with quickness and body control), Jesse Holley (Larry Fitzgerald hair twin), Manuel Johnson (7th round selection and practice squad member in 2009), and Ryan Titus (undrafted free agent in 2007). With the Cowboys having Super Bowl aspirations, parading Roy Williams and Jesse Holley in a division match-up late in the season does not sound appealing at all. Ogletree can play the slot if called upon. He is quick and fast and has developed a rapport with Romo in a short period of time. Depth is not a problem for the Cowboys, so it is unlikely Crayton will be retained.