Dec 22, 2013; Landover, MD, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) watches from the bench against the Washington Redskins in the fourth quarter at FedEx Field. The Cowboys won 24-23. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
A surprising name popped up on an article which recently appeared on NFL.com entitled “Collateral damage: 10 players hurt by free agency”. And that name was Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. The author of the story, Around The League’s editor Gregg Rosenthal, gave this explanation as to why this hurts Romo:
"“The Cowboys’ defense continues to get worse, which Romo will somehow be blamed for eventually. Dallas is thin at wide receiver and running back, and they don’t have the cap room to fill those holes.”"
In my opinion, this is someone who doesn’t spend a lot of his time studying the Cowboys, as we do. If he did, I think he’d realize that this franchise is better equipped at the receiver and running back positions than he believes.
Since Free Agency started last week, the Cowboys have signed four free agents. Defensive tackles Henry Melton, Terrell McClain, defensive end Jeremy Mincey and quarterback Brandon Weeden. As Dallas had the worst defense in the league last year, it was fully expected the Cowboys would focus on that part of the team in free agency and in the upcoming NFL Draft.
As for the current depth at the wide receiver and running back positions, I believe the Cowboys are not ignoring those issues as much as they are hoping that their faith and development of younger players will finally pay off this season.
The Cowboys have two solid starters at wideout in Dez Bryant and Terrence Williams. The diminutive Cole Beasley and special teams ace Dwayne Harris sit directly behind them on the depth chart, and should have no problems making the final 53-man roster. And let’s not forget about wideout Tim Benford, who has spent the last two seasons on the practice squad. It will be a make it or break it offseason for Benford.
Just as they did last year, I expect Dallas to only carry five receivers into the regular season. Throw in all the random names and undrafted rookies who show up and shine like comets during training camp, and the Cowboys are sure to find someone to fill that last roster spot. Although, I’m still not opposed to the Cowboys finding a nice veteran wideout in free agency that could be had for the league minimum like Jacoby Ford or Jason Avant.
Let’s also not forget that the Cowboys have one of the strongest tight end groups in the entire NFL. With Jason Witten, Gavin Escobar and James Hanna being all excellent receiving tight ends, it takes a lot of the pressure off the so-called “thin” receiver corps.
As for running back depth, the Cowboys have their starter in DeMarco Murray coming off his best year as a professional. Although he did miss two games in 2013 due to injury, it was still the most consistent he’s been in his first three seasons. Behind him are Lance Dunbar and Joseph Randle. If Dunbar could stay healthy, his speed and open-field ability are very similar to that of Darren Sproles. The Cowboys will give him every chance to prove he’s ready for the next level. And Randle, who was a fifth round pick in 2013, had a solid rookie season that he will be looking to build upon.
There is room for another running back for Dallas to develop since they decided not to re-sign Phillip Tanner this offseason. Still, “develop” is the key word here. A late round selection or an undrafted free agent will probably be the direction the team would go, unless they could get an unbelievable deal in free agency or via a trade.
Finally, I don’t think Romo has been hurt by the actions of the Cowboys in the last two weeks. In fact, the team has gotten younger along their defensive line and I believe will continue to do so in the upcoming draft. Could Romo use more help in the offense? Sure. But what team couldn’t? The fact is the Cowboys are doing what’s best for the team as a whole right now. And it appears they are doing it right for the first time in a long time.