The first major issue is the focus this team puts on certain positions, specifically the wide receiver position. I can not honestly think of a more volatile, less crucial position on the football field, outside of punter or kicker than the wide receiver. It’s flashy and sexy and extremely athletic but no successful architect of a championship football team would put 1/10th of the resources into this position that Jerry Jones has done with it. Ever since the fateful day of October 10, 1999 when Michael Irvin, the greatest receiver in Cowboys history (and that’s saying something), had his career prematurely ended, the Joneses have been desperately grasping to fill those shoes in a myriad of bad ways.
February 12, 2000 – The Cowboys trade 1st round picks in both 2000 and 2001 for Joey Galloway. Galloway plays one game of the 2000 season for the Cowboys, tearing up his knee in the opening game and three more years before he’s traded to Tampa Bay for a different malcontent wide receiver in Keyshawn Johnson. Galloway only has one year with more than sixty catches (61 in 2002), never reaches 1,000 yards and totals only 12 touchdowns. Meanwhile, Seattle takes RB Shaun Alexander with the pick in 2000 who goes on to have almost 10,000 yards rushing and 100 touchdowns in his nine-year career. In 2001, Seattle drafted ninth overall with the Cowboys pick and while they missed with their selection of WR Koren Robinson, the Cowboys could have had Reggie Wayne or Drew Brees and been set to this day.
April 20, 2002 – Dallas drafts WR Antonio Bryant with the third to last pick in the second round. Bryant, who was a stud in college, fell that low due to character issues, however that did not stop Jones from hitching his wagon to Bryant. Bestowing the hallowed “88” jersey onto him, Jones made Cowboys fans watch for two and half years as Bryant half-assed his way through games, flashing an occasional glimpse of talent in between large bouts of apathy. Bryant found himself a way out-of-town when after one year under Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells, he decided to throw his jersey into Parcells’ face during a practice. Bryant ended his Cowboys career with less than 100 catches and 10 touchdowns.
March 14, 2006 / June 3, 2008 – As if Parcells did not have enough of a headache cleaning up Jerry’s messes, Jones decided to add one more huge one in the name of Terrell Owens. While Owens had his customary stellar stats as a Cowboy, his divisive personality and Me-First antics wore on the entire organization. Parcells refused to refer to Owens by his name in any public interview which was an obvious sign of disgust for Owens and the decision to bring him aboard. This move, along with the pain of the playoff loss in Seattle was largely to blame for Parcells leaving the Cowboys prematurely. Parcells was not the only one to be alienated by Owens however. After Jones lavished “T.O.” with a 4-year, $34 million contract extension in June of 2008, later that season he also blamed QB Tony Romo, TE Jason Witten and then offensive coordinator Jason Garrett of holding private meetings and creating plays without including Owens in the plan. Less than a year later, Owens was released.
October 14, 2008 – Forgetting how horrible of a deal the Galloway fiasco was, Jones gives away first (20th pick), third (82nd pick) and sixth (192nd overall) round picks in the 2009 draft in a trade with Detroit for WR Roy Williams, then without hesitation, Jones extends Williams’ contract adding another six years and $54 million. That promptly lasts only two and a half seasons as Williams never has more than 40 catches or 600 yards in any season with Dallas. With those draft picks that Dallas squandered, players such as Clay Matthews Jr. (Round 1, pick 26), Mike Wallace (Round 3, pick 84) and Jason McCourty (Round 6, pick 203) could have all been Cowboys.
September 9, 2010 – After using a first round pick on Dez Bryant in the 2010 draft, the Cowboys give Miles Austin a contract extension totaling $57 million, even though he was already signed for an extremely team friendly $3.2 million. Since his extension, Austin has never played a full season, has not eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving and has just 13 touchdowns. It’s the worst kept secret in football that he’ll too be cut this year.
All of that attention for one position has left the Cowboys with little to show for it. Now, they are coming up on another contract negotiation with a receiver that actually does deserve the money he is about to get. If Dallas is serious about fixing this organization, they must be smart with the contract they provide Dez and keep in mind their mistakes of the past.