Dec 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin (19) celebrates catching a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints at Cowboys Stadium. The Saints beat the Cowboys 34-31 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys Need To Cut Free, Austin And Let Spencer Walk

Nov 18, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Jay Ratliff (90) celebrates making a tackle during the game against the Cleveland Browns at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys beat the Browns 23-20 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

And I’m on the fence about Jay Ratliff, but leaning towards cutting him too.  Will the Dallas Cowboys do it?  Probably not.

Listen, except for the few times times the Cowboys brain trust decided to cut players or let them walk like Terrell Owens (Stephen Jones idea) or Roy Williams, Marion Barber or Andre Gurode, the Cowboys usually use the ‘better the devil you know’ theory when deciding to keep players.  Since the early 90′s success, Jerry Jones and his Cowboys have been too afraid of the unknown,  instead of trusting in their system and plugging and playing all but a few core players.

Instead of letting average players play out their contracts, if Jerry sees a glimpse of above average, he won’t let em go.  He’d rather sign them to a bigger contract and hope the player continues to get better, instead of letting the player continue to improve or giving someone else a try at that spot.

Dec. 4, 2011; Glendale, AZ, USA; Dallas Cowboys tackle Doug Free against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It’s odd to me that what’s clear to even the most casual Cowboys fan is so invisible to Jerry Jones and all the others behind the valley Ranch doors.  For example,  OT Doug Free sucks, so does Bernadeau (or at least he did last year).  In fact, the whole offensive line was inconsistent, undisciplined and penalty prone – including Tyron Smith.  But you won’t hear that from the Cowboys owner or coaching staff.  the best you get from them is “we need some work, some improvement in that area”.  Some work?

Another example is WR Miles Austin.  We all saw, and announcers in nearly every game pointed out, he disappears in games.  Austin’s played half heatedly since he signed his big contract.  Why are the Cowboys holding on to that?  Yea, I know he’s had hamstring problems, but come on.  No matter how much Dallas likes him, it’s a waste of time and cap space to keep Miles Austin if they keep using him as a second outside receiver.   His hammys can’t keep up, Austin is best in the slot.  Besides, it’s been noted that he has had trouble judging the ball on deep routes,  why keep Austin if you’re not going to utilize his strengths?

The Cowboys did the same thing to Marion Barber a few years ago.  Barber was a bruising change of pace finisher, not a work horse, carry the load guy.  Because he got a big contract, the Cowboys wanted to use Barber all the time instead of keep him where he fits best.  Look at how that turned out, for Marion and the Cowboys.  Now they repeat that failed behavior with Miles.

Last example I’m going to use here is OLB, Anthony Spencer.  Spencer has been underrated for the last few years because he plays opposite one of the best pass rushers of his generation, DeMarcus Ware.  Going underrated, the Cowboys did not feel the need to sign Spencer to a more cap friendly contract a few years ago when they had the chance.  Now he is going to be too expensive to keep.

Dec 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys linebacker Anthony Spencer (93) looks into the backfield of the New Orleans Saints at Cowboys Stadium. The Saints beat the Cowboys 34-31 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a toss up to me whether Spencer was ever worth resigning anyway, considering he played his best last year in anticipation of being a free agent.  Convenient, even though D Ware was a shell of himself on the other side of the D line for the last half of last season, making Spencer look that much better.  Is Spencer a good linebacker?  Yes, given the right circumstances.  Should the Cowboys try and sign him and free up cap space elsewhere?  Absolutely not! But I bet Jerry and Stephen Jones are thinking about it.  You know, the whole ‘devil you know’ business.

In an offseason that is going to see the Dallas Cowboys go from their 8 year run as a 3-4 defense back to a 4-3, why not do some more plug and play?  Let Spencer walk, I’d strongly consider cutting the too often injured Nose tackle, Ratliff (who’s body is breaking down in part because the Cowboys did that infamous – sign a big contract, then get moved out of your natural position – just like Barber.  Just like Austin.)

On offense, can the line get any worse if you cut Doug Free? That is a resounding NO.  And let me tell you, the Cowboys wouldn’t miss Miles Austin either, but they are probably too afraid to find out.

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Tags: Anthony Spencer Dallas Cowboys Doug Free Miles Austin

  • CowboyFanSince78

    GREAT article!!!

  • Old Frog


  • jrcowboy49

    Cutting Miles Austin and Doug Free and letting Spencer go would be the right thing to do. Then draft the best ROG or ROT in round one, a WR in round 2, and the RB out of Stanford in the 3rd. Then go defense the remaining rounds. Keep Ratliff for 2013.

  • ctcowboy1968

    I understand your overall point. It’s a great one. I agree on cutting Free and Bernandeau this year. Cowboys won’t be able to afford Spencer, so he’s gone. Renegotiate Miles. Keep Rat for another year only because we have such a hole at DT. Hopefully we cover that hole in the draft, then cut Rat. Rat’s best days are years behind him now.

    • Artie C

      even if Miles renegotiates (which, if he stays is imperative), but put him back in the slot. It’s a better position for him. If not, then trade him. Miles has value, to some other team that I wouldn’t be surprised if they put him in the slot.

  • californy

    The real issue is no accountability with this team, JJ as it GM and friends to the player. JJ for 17 years has been trying to buy a Championship. Champions are drafted and developed by most team. The Salary cap is what keep the team within a budget. JJ doesnt really live with a budget. Yup JJ has broken every rule of what a good GM should do. It no wonder this team averages 8-8 for the last 17 years

  • californy

    Free is terrible I get that but he may be to expensive to cut, and cutting him will only create another need. Parnell has 1 game of OT play and that include even HS. He is a project not a nFL starting OT.Ratliff number are steady at 30 tackles per season, his reluctant not to have ankle surgery is the reason I would move him. Ratliff will cost about the same if we cut him or keep him this year. If we cut him we create another need. Then factor in Spencer leaving, that would create 3 need by our cuts and we have 6 draft picks. Miles Austin actually has value , he has better number than WR Bowe, Gregg Jenning, Percy Harvin they along with Mike Wallace are looking for a bump in their pay from 1-14 million a year. Miles has better number than all except than Mike Wallace during this time. He is number 3 in games played during this time also. If those player make what they are asking then Miles is a saving of 3 to 6 million a year. Miles Austin has value for us in a trade. I propose a trade for him at 31 to mid pick of round number 2 in this year draft. There are teams like SF, Rams, Cleveland, Cincy ,Ravens, GB, KC, TB, Texans who may be looking at WR this year in the draft

    • Artie C

      I understand what you’re saying. I don’t think Free would create a need, it would open a door to Parnell or someone else. You can’t lose letting him go, at worst you stay the same. I could be wrong, but i also think that the switch to a 4-3 D mitigates the loss of Spencer. And about Miles, I like him — in the slot– not on the outside. You see, that’s the issue I have with Jerry or whoever decides moving a player to a different position or different roll than they were best at, just because they are paying that player more money. That strategy prematurely doomed Marion Barber and is doing the same thing to Ratliff and Miles. Put Miles back in the slot where he belongs and I’m ok with him. If not, trade him, because we are wasting his talent and his hamstrings on the outside, IMO