Back in March, the Dallas Cowboys were up against the cap and were too broke to sign anyone. In a flurry of a few days, the Cowboys were able to restructure a few contracts and create enough cap space to breathe. One of the more peculiar things was what they decided to do with guard Nate Livings’ deal.
Livings, who as you remember was an undrafted free-agent acquisition of the Cincinnati Bengals back in 2006. After fizzling out in 2012 with Cincinnati, he signed a five-year $18.7 million with $6.2 million guaranteed contract with the Dallas Cowboys. As part of the deal, the Cowboys restructured his deal this offseason to a low $815,000 for a total cap hit of $1.73 million.
Dec 16, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys guard Nate Livings (71) on the sidelines against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Where it gets interesting is the fact that the front office decided to not turn in this restructure at the time. When you turn in a restructured contract in the NFL, it all but guarantees that player a spot on your roster. After looking at this maneuver, it becomes evident that this organization may have shaky faith that Livings is their guy.
After all, Nate Livings had a 2012 campaign that could be described in many words but let’s just stick with “rough”. In fact, Livings and Bernadeau, who were both free agent acquisitions, were disappointments; it’s just a matter of who you think stunk less. The answer is Mackenzie Bernadeau, whom at least seemed to get better as the year went on.
The frustrating factor in this mess is the fact that both guys were relied upon, and both guys let you down in most occasions. Where I give Bernadeau the nod is because of his versatility and the fact that he’s back on the field currently. It helps that he is also younger, and has more upside.
When this training camp began, it was the same story; Nate Livings is hurt and cannot practice. Once he was able to practice, he looked winded, sloppy, and not a factor. According to sources after Livings has literally been on the field for a cup of coffee, he is now headed for knee surgery that may keep him out for the opener. This team’s ignorance of this position is one thing, but when you have guys that can’t get right; it’s much worse.
Garrett, Jones, Callahan, and especially Romo know that they need some help in this area if they are even to sniff the postseason. Enter Ronald Leary, he’s not perfect but he handled the Hall of Fame game as well as you can. He played hard and had a very clean game, not to mention he played pretty much the entire time.
In the past week, we’ve heard many names floated around these practices about getting some guys in here that are ready to practice. Stephen Jones went as far as to say “no stone will be unturned”. These coaches and executives are surely aware of this issue. This is precisely the reason The Cowboys may be looking to 36 year-old, six-time pro-bowler, and former patriarch of the Patriots; Brian Waters.
Sure, He’s old and hasn’t played for a year but if he can help this team; get him to Oxnard and let him do his thing. In my humble opinion, Offensive Linemen can still be very productive even at an older age, look how Kosier did for these Cowboys. Nate Livings has made himself the odd man out because he is always the man that is out. He has a knee, he has a foot, he has this, he has that; it’s time to cut the fat. Ronald Leary has earned that spot and has been more than serviceable. Mackenzy Bernadeau will get a chance to do something in the next few practices and possibly in Oakland. As far as I’m concerned this organization is going to need to bring more guys in with the rate their dropping.
In closing, the most important catalyst in being successful in this league in the trenches is continuity. By not having this, you are doing guys like Smith, Frederick, Costa, Leary and others an unfortunate disservice. Create the competition necessary to get your best five out on that line and put Tony Romo in a good spot. In Canton after these backs put up 170 yards for a 5 yard average on Miami, it’s safe to say; Nate Livings, you are the weakest link, goodbye.