Caution: Jerry flavored Kool-Aid being served up in Dallas

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 Laurent Robinson

When Laurent Robinson quickly bolted Dallas and cashed in with the Jaguars, the Cowboys had no option but to wisely let him walk.  The money needed to retain him was far above the value of a #2A / #3 wide receiver.  However, Mr. “I don’t play this game for money”, “I belong here in Dallas” also graciously left a starting receiver spot wide open when he scurried away.  I don’t blame Laurent for taking care of business, but we all could have done without the quotes saying money is no factor and he wants to be in Dallas.  Back to the point, the third wide receiver is justly considered a starter in some offensive game plans.  For the Cowboys the #3 is definitely a co-starter simply because Dez Bryant and Miles Austin are completely unreliable to remain healthy for a full season.  Without a doubt, the Cowboys #3 will be elevated to the second spot for a game or even games in 2012.  Robinson played an average of 37 snaps per game last year, even starting four contests.  With an offense attempting roughly 70 plays a week, he was in on over half with Dallas.  With that much responsibility, Dallas better be sure the next #3 guy can ball in this league.

2012 Candidates (to date)

Unfortunately, replacing Robinson’s eye-popping 2011 numbers with Andre Holmes, Kevin Ogletree, Dwayne Harris, or Raymond Radway is completely unrealistic.  What Laurent did in 2011 is a very rare feat from the #3 spot and a team is lucky to enjoy it once in a decade.  I’m absolutely positive Ogletree, Harris, or Radway aren’t even remotely the answer.  Can they be decent #4 and beyond guys?  Sure, but not solid #3’s.   You have to look no further than other #3’s in the NFC East division to understand my point.  As for Andre Holmes, Dallas fans got sold a bag of parsley on that diversion.  I saw this coming from a mile away when Ole’ Jerry began the Holmes may be the next Robinson talk a few months back.  He knew Laurent would be priced out of Dallas and prepped fans for the fallout to cover his back.  And of real amazement, most bought JJ’s smokescreen about a guy who’s never played a down in the NFL adequately replacing 858 yards and the team’s TD leader with 11.  Wow!

Let me clarify this is not intended to knock Andre Holmes in any manner, it’s more so blasting the unrealistic expectations Jerry has created for the youngster.  If Holmes produces like a Jesse Holley he’s gonna get way more unnecessary flack from fans than if Jones had just kept quiet and let him do his thing.  As for his skills and value to the team in 2012, I’ll be reserving that judgment for after I can actually see what he offers in training camp.  Who knows, he may be able to excel and exceed half of Robinson’s stellar production.  That would actually be a nice feat for a non-rookie player who has never touched the field in a regular season game.  But for now, all we know for sure is Andre Holmes hasn’t played an NFL down, and went undrafted in 2011 out of tiny Hillsdale College.  He was assessed by scouts that year as having great size and good speed, to go along with heavy concern about his hands and ability to create space.  Keep in mind when leveling immense expectations on the young player like Jones did…Holmes caught 11 TD’s in 2010 during his senior season at Hillsdale College, the same number Robinson caught in 2011 against the best competition in the world.

Moves Needed to Become a Contender:

Dallas fans can hope they already have another diamond in the rough on the roster with Holmes.  It’s not unreasonable to have hope for a talented young player with great size and speed.  If he can put it all together, he might be special.  But for now his true value has yet to be determined and is not worthy of risking playoff contention.  Disregard the rest of the backup receivers on the roster as anything more than fourth or below.  They just aren’t worth higher production value than that.  So while many hopes are pinned to Holmes, Dallas needs to avoid wagering potential victories and acquire some insurance with a veteran free agent.  Adding a consistent player like Deion Branch would be beneficial if the Cowboys could afford his ballpark of $3 mil/year, which may be asking too much.  A cheaper option is Donnie Avery, a guy with great speed who showed real promise his first two seasons by averaging over 600 yards and 4 TD’s.  Avery hurt his knee and was out in 2010.  In 2011, he struggled to get on the field with the Tennessee Titans as he admittedly needed more time to heal.  He’s only 27, claims he’s now fully healed, and would be a low risk/high reward guy who’s excelled before and is affordable.  Besides picking up a free agent, I’d also draft a WR no higher than the 4th round and sign a few more undrafted guys with promise.