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?

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

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.