All offseason the media and fans have been harping on the notion that the Cowboys needed to add a big play receiver opposite Terrell Owens to really compete for the Super Bowl this year. Folks weren't comfortable with the notion of Patrick Crayton as the number two receiver, especially after his sure hands suddenly turned to butter in the playoffs. The argument against adding a receiver was that the Cowboys already had that playmaking guy on the squad, either in a rehabbing Terry Glenn or emerging wide receivers Miles Austin and Isaiah Stanback. Another thing to consider was that in essence Jason Witten is the Cowboys' #2 receiver, with Crayton providing more than decent numbers for a #3. Well, the Cowboys are headed into the season opener without Austin and possibly without Stanback, two players that provided good depth at receiver yet also were pretty good on special teams as well.
Now before I am accused of panicking over backups being injured, I want to go on record as saying that I think the Cowboys are in better shape at the receiver position than they were last year, when the team played the entire season with the same 1, 2 and 3 receivers they have now. Sam Hurd now has one year of experience under his belt (19 receptions for 310 yards in 2007) and by most accounts has had a great training camp so far. Hurd has shown that he has the hands and route running to be a reliable option for Romo, yet he does not have the down field playmaking ability that Austin was flashing before his injury. With Austin and Stanback out, the Cowboys are now faced with either Danny Amendola or Mike Jefferson filling in at the #4 spot. At first this seems scary before you remember that Miles Austin was in the same spot last year with the same amount of career receptions as Amendola and Jefferson; zero. Granted, Austin had a full year of NFL practice experience before stepping into that spot.
Last season the Cowboys put together one of the greatest offensive years in franchise history, with basically the same cast of characters we have now. All season we waited for Terry Glenn to get better as the Cowboys held a roster spot for him, only to have Glenn show up less than 100% and catch just four balls (while making $5 million). This offseason, Jerry Jones touted Glenn as a returning weapon for the Cowboys only to waive him the day before training camp when neither side could come to terms on a injury waiver. The Cowboys moved on without Glenn, who piqued the interest of a few NFL teams but has yet to be offered a contract anywhere. Now that the Cowboys are faced with some depth issues at wide receiver, should Jerry Jones make a few phone calls to Glenn's agent, or any other receivers on the open market?
At first my answer is no. I still contend that even without a "true deep threat" at the number two spot the Cowboys have plenty of offensive weapons available to be successful this year. The Cowboys will have a more balanced running attack this year which will take some pressure off the passing game, not to mention the addition of Felix Jones who is a threat in both passing and running situations. Taking a look around, more than half the teams in the league would kill to have the receiving group we do between Witten, Crayton and Owens. The loss of a number 4 and 5 receiver shouldn't justify bringing in a veteran receiver, especially considering the fact that Austin should only miss a game or two at most. The list of available receivers leaves a lot to be desired and I just don't think any of them would be a sure fire upgrade over the unproven bunch we have now.
But then hypotheticals jump into my mind, specifically thinking back to how the offense fluttered when Terrell Owens got hurt. If the Cowboys did (Heaven forbid) lose one of their top 3 receivers, the dynamic of the offense would change as an unproven rookie would be asked to step in and make plays. Not an easy thing to fathom as you hopefully gear up for a long playoff run. It would be nice to at least have something to fall back on, especially if that backup plan is a receiver that knows your system, is familiar with your quarterback and has made plays before.
Now, its just not as simple as Jerry calling up Glenn and saying, "We want you back." There's no way the Cowboys are going to play Glenn anything more than the veteran minimum, and then there's that nasty business over the health of his knee. If he were able to pass a physical and willing to sign a reasonable contract, I am all for bringing him in.
Right now, there is just no need to panic about the depth of the recievers especially when you consider the quality of talent that's available. Miles Austin shouldn't miss any significant time and even if Stanback is out for the season there are other guys on the team that could step up into his shoes. If Glenn is healthy and willing to settle for a cheap contract then I am all for bringing him in. Anything other than that is just not worth it at this point.