NFL teams that are trying to get to a SuperBowl, or at least stay in the hunt, are making hard choices. Teams are cutting players that are still relevant. The New York Giants cut veteran starters – Michael Boley, Chris Canty and Ahmad Bradshaw and they aren’t done. The Atlanta Falcons cut long time Falcons – Michael Turner, Dunta Robinson and even their best pass rusher, John Abraham. The Dallas Cowboys cut… wait… no, they ‘restructured’ players instead of cutting them.
The Cowboys did get under the cap by restructuring Miles Austin, Brandon Carr, DeMarcus Ware, Jason Witten, Ryan Cook and Phil Costa. They also plan to restructure Jay Ratliff’s and Tony Romo’s contract soon. They got under the cap which was their goal, but did they get any better?
The Giants have been to a couple SuperBowls with the players they cut and the Falcons came within a touchdown of going to this year’s SuperBowl with the players they let go of. The Cowboys? Well the Cowboys missed the playoffs for the 3rd straight year with the players they kept and restructured. Hhmmm.
Obviously, Carr, DWare and Witten are keepers, but can you tell me the same about Costa or Cook? Of course not. What about Ratliff or Austin? The answer to that is also no.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the Cowboys should arbitrarily cut players that are at or just past their prime simply to clear cap space, but just keep that option on the table. Players like Miles Austin know by now that, at least for the Cowboys, it takes more than not performing up to your contract to get cut. What does that show the rest of the players? Or, what does it say to Tony Romo that you are keeping Phil Costa or are considering keeping Doug Free and moving him to Guard?
Not one offensive lineman on the Dallas Cowboys, except maybe – maybe – Tyron Smith, should be close to assured of being on this roster after how poorly they protected the franchise QB. I tell you what, regardless of all the talk to the contrary by the Jones’ and Jason Garrett, the Cowboys are not Romo friendly. How bad could it possibly be to cut some of these guys and take your chances in the draft or free agency? What is Jerry afraid of ? Is he afraid that if he cuts the likes of Ratliff or Austin that the Cowboys might go 8 – 8 and miss the playoffs?
Jerry and Stephen Jones should look at how teams like the Giants and Falcons work their rosters. Letting go of veteran starters, especially ones that are not ‘core’ players, doesn’t guarantee that these teams will improve. But what does keeping players hoping they will play up to their potential, or are afraid of not being able to replace, guarantee?
What is it they say about doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result?