One of the first things I stated in my introductory piece for BTB back in December was that I will often argue a point, then defend the counter in an effort to reach a consensus. I love to argue, as witnessed from a few of our more candid comment threads of the last week, but I recognize that there are multiple outlooks on every situation and respect those views. Often times, thanks to the incredible nature of our community and SB Nation in general, things are stated that cause me to fine tune the subtleties of my point of view.
As is the case in most off-season discussions, we debate opinions and future happenings, things with no tangible support. No matter how many statistical formulas are created, I have yet to find any that can truly predict the nature of the upcoming season. Heck, wins and losses don't even predict that, as the playoff churn Rafael Vela started documenting years ago proves. A great stat can undoubtedly tell us what happened beyond the final scores, but that's about it. You can glean a trend, but there's nothing in the stat that guarantees it will continue. So the debates we have might not change my opinion immediately, but they do put that voice in the back of my head that will resurface when the games return to us.
It's with this flexibility in mind, I wanted to tackle a couple recent topics. No claims as to which is the right stance, as they are all opinions. This is more to provide food for thought during an off season weekend.
Training Camp rosters expansion to 90 or more players
Most of the reaction to this news that I've seen consider this a positive. I'm not so sure. With a truncated training camp, and the same number of position coaches, do they really need more camp bodies to evaluate? Most of the bottom of the training camp roster has little chance to make the game day ones, and sometime even the practice squad. I understand the allure of finding the next Tony Romo and Miles Austin, but there are hundreds of UDFA's each year that never make a team. Do I want Rob Ryan and Brian Baker spending even five minutes giving instruction to a guy that won't sniff the roster, when they could be spending that five minutes teaching it to someone that will get snaps?
Do the Cowboys have a leadership problem
This was actually the topic that spawned the idea for this post. As most people dismissed the Brian Baldinger claim that leadership is a problem on this team (and rightfully so for the way his argument was constructed), I pondered a bit that it could be a possibility a problem does exist. This brings to the table many different conversations.
First, how important is player leadership on a team? What does it look like, does it have more than one variety? Does leadership have to come from the best players and vocally?
A lot of people place the leadership responsibility solely at the feet of the coaches. However, Ive seen situations where the top level leadership was lacking and the next level down stepped up and made sure that the final product didn't suffer. Maybe this had been the case all the way through the Wade Phillips regime and the player leadership finally fell without support.
Is it all revisionist's history? Does leadership have to manifest itself in a championship before it gets recognized? Personally, I remember plenty of Tony Romo led fourth quarter comebacks, even if the post season success has so far eluded him. After five years at the helm, though, the question of Romo's leadership skills does start to earn some legitimacy.
Signing Doug Free at all costs
With the report earlier in the week that the next CBA will place unrestricted status on four-year free agents, a bit of nervousness seeped into our minds. Doug Free is one of said four-year free agents, and his development has been the lone bright spot for our offensive line. It has been an extremely long time since Dallas was able to home grow a top tier lineman, and the thought of losing Free to another team may be too much for some fans to swallow. You think we're all warm and mushy over pairing Free with Tyron Smith? Imagine what the hated Skins would be feeling about stealing Free to pair with young tackle Trent Williams.
And that's where the problem comes in. There are multiple teams that need a tackle, including teams well-known to overpay for players. Denver, Arizona, Detroit, New England, San Diego, as well as division rivals Washington, New York and Philadelphia all had perceived tackle needs heading into the draft. Most still have a need, as well as several teams in the later slots. A bidding war is almost a certainty, Cowboys fans are hardly the only ones in on the Doug Free secret.
If a bidding war starts, even if the Cowboys have earned the 'right of final refusal', would breaking the bank for Free be the best thing for the team? What if he commands 'best tackle in the game' money? There is a real possibility that the cap could go way up this year. Would a team that has money coming off the books in the future convince themselves it's the right move for their future to offer top dollar? If you don't think going after Nnamdi Asomugha is a good idea (and I don't) doesn't that leave at least a little reservation to giving out a contract that will hamstring you capwise moving forward? Even for a young tackle? Free has potential and promise, but he isn't a perfect tackle.
I'd be conflicted, for sure. I don't think Free has earned top left tackle money, but not signing him would be as close to rebuilding as ever admitted for Dallas. Could Jerry Jones even do that to Tony Romo, leave him with a rookie tackle and a mid-tier free agent guarding the edges? Since I'm sure Free's agent has figured all of this out, and since we have never seen Jerry Jones let a big name player walk since Alvin Harper, I'm thinking Free is going to take a big chunk out of Dallas' available cap space. I'm trying to see both sides of the coin, but even the antagonist in me doesn't see how anyone could truly advocate that.