A lot of options as you ponder the future of the Cowboys. Martellus Bennett will likely test the market and be replaced by John Phillips or a mid-draft selection. Stephen McGee has 1 year left and could also move on leaving the Cowboys as a backup to Romo, or depending what happens in the draft or free agency, he could go back to a #3.
What did we lose?
Bennett - #1 ranked TE out of HS, #2 ranked TE out of College, proven one of the best blocking TE's in the NFL
McGee - #4 ranked QB out of HS, #6 ranked QB out of College, limited action as a #3 QB but exceptional performance in the clutch - 160+ QB rating inside 2 minutes
If they both move on what do you replace him with? Bennett is replaced by John Phillips and McGee could be replaced through free agency or the draft, mid-range if you are looking to replace him as a backup.
I don't buy it, either of them leaving. When the Cowboys were great in the 70's, 80's and 90's it was because guys like Newton, Allen, Moose, Erik Williams etc. were exceptional blockers. We had Aikman and Irvin, but we won games because we could run the ball between the tackles in the redzone. How did Emmit have 25 TDs in 1 season? It's no coincidence that some of Demarco Murray's biggest runs were when Bennett and Fiammetta were out there. I just don't see Garrett's plan including losing Bennett, he just went out and got the best OL/OC for improving the run. Why would you not lock down your best blockers? We locked down Fiammetta, lets lock down Bennett.
McGee - Dallas has never had a mobile QB. Romo cannot run for 1st downs, McGee can. We've seen how Romo has been in clutch situations and a bit of McGee. There's no value in giving McGee experience in the 2-minute drill. There's little value in giving him more game experience, he played at Texas Stadium in HS and won 2 state championships. He played in College and won big games there, he threw a 50-yard bomb to Sam Hurd in one of his 1st pre-season games, he threw a 37-yarder to Austin in his 1st regular season-game. Witten, Harris, Demarco were all recipients of huge gains on short routes. When he's out there good things happen, he's got an 80+ QB rating, it goes up to 160+ inside 2-minutes. He's clutch, the biggest knock on Romo is that he's not clutch. Staubach was clutch, White was clutch, Aikman was clutch. I like QB's who can win in the clutch, that's the rep that Dallas QB's have, Romo was close, but I'm ready to see what McGee can do. I'm ready to move on from Romo, Garrett and Jerry aren't, but when they are I don't want to see anyone else. Sure it would be great to go out and get another #1 overall pick, but 1-15 wasn't fun and not every #1 pick is Aikman, Eli or Peyton. I see McGee staying put, get a #2 veteran QB? I doubt it, if we do he won't be better than McGee, we need depth at QB, Romo is getting fragile, but with McGee we have what we need to make a playoff run.
What will the Cowboys look like in 2013? I don't know if Romo will still be the starting QB, but I expect McGee and Bennett will still be here, if they are we will probably have a pretty good running game, especially if we can improve the interior OL spots. Those 2 sticking could be pretty important if we are truly able to return to being America's Team.
Is McGee clutch? Perhaps this will remind you...
Stephen McGee to Miles Austin go ahead touchdown! (via TopSportVids)
Cowboys in 2013
-A mobile Quarterback - post-Romo era - Romo is too expensive to cut or trade this year but the time will come to move on from Romo - Stephen McGee will be ready if we keep him, or we will need a high draft pick to replace Romo
-A strong running game - great blocking is a key - Callahan has had success getting teams to the 2,500 yards and 20+ touchdowns target, that should be our goal. Jason Witten is an above average blocker, he continues to improve and Martellus is a dominant blocker who can take on DE's. This really is a 2-year project for Callahan and the interior OL has a lot to do with this, but that is really the only weakness if Bennett and Fiammetta stay healthy, we are also very solid at OT.
-McGee-to-Bennett - the 2 times I saw Bennett play with McGee he was targeted several times and had at least 3 receptions. Playing with Romo he didn't have 1 reception in the pre-season, McGee only had him for 1 drive vs SD, Bennett had 3 receptions including 1 for 19 yards which was his season-high, and during the season his game-high was 3 receptions in 15 games, but McGee-to-Bennett was able to match that in the partial game vs Philly and Martellus' regular season long - a 14 yard reception. Going into 2012 they both turn 27 (McGee) and 25 (Bennett) so we might be seeing this combination together for a long time. Bennett had a big receiving season in his senior year in HS (42 receptions) and College (38 and 49 in his Sophmore and Junior years). He had 33 receptions in 2010 including 7 against Chicago with Romo at QB. Romo-to-Bennett can be successful as well...