Will Roster Management ‘Ripple Effects’ Continue To Plague the Cowboys?

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While reading through current Dallas Cowboys articles on Saturday March 24th, 2012, one unsettling trend seemed to emerge quickly and consistently.  Not one single news story on the main links page was addressing something positive accomplished in the 2012 free agency period.  Let’s take a look at some of the stories of the day.  First I’ll provide the headline in paraphrase form, to be followed with a hopefully relevant analysis and relation to the point of this article.

  • Marion Barber to Retire

This first story made me begin to reflect upon the ripple effects of past lackluster decision making within the organization, and their lingering consequences which damaged the Cowboys in future years.  As for the later years of Marion Barber, he was simply a grossly overpaid player in his last contract by an overzealous Jerry Jones.  And the Cowboys were forced to keep him in 2010 past his production warranting his ability to help the team and his financial value being anywhere near justified.

In 2008 Barber was re-signed for 7 years/$45 mil / $16 mil guaranteed.  With 2010 being his final season wearing the star, Barber rushed for only 374 yards and 4 touchdowns , while posting a career low 3.3 per rush average.  I still vividly recall a majority of Cowboys fans becoming very vocally displeased with being forced to hang on to Barber the last few years.  And after fulfilling just 3 years of his huge deal, creating a size-able chunk of remaining dead money upon his release, and one season with the Bears, The ‘Barbarian’ is turning in his spiked battle club.  Ouch.

  • Dallas Cowboys to Fight Cap Penalties

Next the cap penalty topic was broached.  Right or wrong, win or lose, it still reeks from the poor decisions management makes when assembling the roster.  I understand the thinking in that year, and also felt retaining Miles Austin was essential, yet also have to believe the Cowboys saw this turmoil coming and predicted likely and very costly ramifications.  And today the limited available cap space is feeling the ripple effect from it, whether Jones admits it or not.

$5 mil of cap money will buy two very capable starters in this league.  And would also buy two more next year when the final $5 mil of the penalty comes around.  Two starter upgrades on a depth chart can very well be the difference between 8-8 and a successful playoff run.  This league is truly a game of inches.  Which Cowboys fans witnessed firsthand through 5 defeats by 6 points or less in 2011.

  • Kevin Ogletree Re-signed by Cowboys for 1 year /$650,000

The subject here was the Cowboys retaining Kevin Ogletree to compete for the 3rd wide receiver spot.  Lets not forget Kevin Ogletree has unsuccessfully competed for this spot when it was his for the taking the last two seasons.  This is the same player Laurent Robinson made irrelevant when on the same roster last year.  Ogletree graded out last of the 5 WR’s with only 57% of his targets being completions.

While spending the last three years with Dallas, he’s recorded under 300 yards receiving combined and yet to score a touchdown….a clear indication why he has not been able to lock down the third spot.  As we’ve heard before, after three years in the league, you are what you are. Ogletree is a decent 4/5 WR with experience, yet typically vets in that position are more progress stoppers of younger guys than helpful.

The lack of addressing the third wide receiver position with an accomplished, veteran free agent outside of re-signing Ogletree is a glaring red flag.  We all expect big things from Bruce Carter at ILB, but Jerry Jones had wonderful insight to sign Dan Connor as insurance and even solid depth at the position regardless of who starts.  This may be the free agent move of the year with all factors considered.

With the ever important 3rd wide receiver position now open in Jason Garrett’s offense, we all expect big things from another green player in Andre Holmes.  But where is any kind of solid veteran insurance at this key position?  As for now, it’s Ogletree, and will be more costly than most realize if it remains void of a talented player above his level.