FanPost

Two years to Cowboy's greatness: Side-stepping the franchise QB dilema

This is my first fanpost. In fact, besides a couple of comments here and there this really is the first substantive thing I have posted “on the line.” Because of this, I will give a very quick background about me because I think it can expose a person’s thought process from time to time. I was born just outside of Philadelphia but grew up right outside of Washington DC. The Eagles were nothing (at least in my memory) but the Flyers and Phillies were all that mattered to me because of my roots. Growing up in Largo, MD, I learned to truly HATE the redskins. This hatred initially was just a way to lash out at my parents and I didn’t really follow any particular team. However, at some point (certainly by the time I was 10 or 11) I realized the best way to hate the redskins was to love the Cowboys. So, this obviously made me an outsider even more so than I already was (as a white kid in a Washington suburb). Arguing for the pokes gave me attention and I probably could have been swayed to just about any team back then if different circumstances had occurred. Regardless, I endured the failing of Landry (7-9 and 3-13) and was teetering on the edge of not being a fan of any team. However, once I “survived” the 1-15 season of Johnson, I turned the corner as a fan. No one could shake me then. I remember seeing that season very differently than a “disaster” many remember it as. I could see the progress. I could see the players improving. I could see talent which would eventually be very good. Did I expect them to be as good as they were? Probably not, but I knew it was a team that was getting better.

This team is similar. I can see talent and I know that a good portion of this team is going to get much better. On offense, there needs to be a few things here and there (a WR, another RB, a younger G and T) but none of it is really pressing… YET. These are players who could be brought at the rate of one or two per year, and depending on your particular feelings about those positions which one needs to be this year and which one needs to be a 3rd rd pick vice a 4th rd pick could be (and probably will be) argued in their own fanpost.

I want the Cowboys to be Superbowl champs every year. I believe JG is doing a good to great job of building an atmosphere and culture which could endure for years. However, we have two big issues preventing my goals from being realized. What are these two issues? Tony Romo and Demarcus Ware.

These players have been great for the Cowboys. But their time and their salaries are coming to an end. Demarcus needs to take a pay cut. I know it is going to be tough on him, but I believe it will happen. I think we would be lucky to get two decent years out of him. I hope we do, but he needs a replacement on the roster NOW. We must “try” to draft his replacement this year. But, we have other issues and that may not be possible. I will be happy with the best S or the best DE or the best DT that can be had this year. Which one isn’t really a big deal to me. BUT… if given a choice (say the best of each is sitting there at 16) then go with DE/DT depending on upside.

The Cowboys are unlikely to contend for the Superbowl this upcoming year. Color me jaded, but the combination of Crawford, Bass, Selvie, maybe Spencer, maybe DWare and maybe some great DL draft pick (even the ridiculous notion of Clowney) is probably not enough to get it done the way this Kiffin/Marinelli defense is designed. Safety is still a weak link, rookie defensive lineman do not tend to explode their very first season (although there are examples to discount this argument, the arguments are not just typical players) and who knows what Crawford, Bass, DWare and Spencer will be able to do this year.

But after 732 words, I still haven’t arrived at my perspective for this post. Tony Romo's back. I’m afraid. I love the guy and would probably be labelled a Romomantic but this back stuff is very tricky. I didn’t think on Oct 10, 1999 it would be the last day I watched Michael Irvin run across the middle. (Here’s an interesting story about MI’s perspective on that day which I came across when reading about the Flyers one day) How can we be prepared for his departure… but also not overspend on a young QB when TR may be good/great for another 3-4 years. The answer is trading for future draft picks. I’m active duty Navy, so while I always will read about the Cowboys, the “local” team has switched enough as I’ve moved around the country that I’ve been force fed different teams garbage. When I was living in RI about 10 years ago, I read about how Belichick liked to flip picks into the next year. This is the way I would prepare for the potential departure of TR.

I know S, DE, DT, OG, QB, RB and WR are the things we should expect to draft. No matter what you believe is the boys greatest need (in my case it is DE/DT equally), I don’t think we should expect that a stud DT/DE is going to make or break this team now or even next year if he is drafted in the third round. Does it happen. Absolutely. Is it the way you should expect your team. No way. My opinion is flip our third rounder for someone’s second rounder next year.

Here’s the why. I think Tony has at best two years as our good-ish QB. This is probably a bit of a pessimistic view, but I think it’s the right approach for building this team. Yes, we lose a single 3rd round player. We need many players. One isn’t the end of the world (especially for a team who is probably not a Super Bowl contender) and it gives us more control next year. If we over achieve or hit on a stud DL and S, that’s fine. I still don’t think we will be good enough to compete in a Superbowl with a team like Seattle or SF or whomever you think is the strongest today.

Next year some of those currently less pressing needs (G, WR, RB, maybe LB) may have become more pressing depending on age, injuries, lack of growth/improvement. DL will still need some love in the draft too (probably at the top since Dware is ANOTHER year older now). If you have just had a great season of Romo and new medical check-ups say his back is perfectly fine (I doubt it, but bear with me) then you could use your extra pick for one of these groups and possibly field a Superbowl contender the following year (2015). But I think this is a mistake unless you have some pretty significant evidence that Romo is going to be around until 2016 or 2017. Oh and there's that impending salary problem too. Flip it again. Now the 2nd becomes a 1st for the following year.

Or… maybe his back fell completely apart and you were forced to throw some version of a bus driver 4th or 5th year journeyman-not-great-for-prime-time-free-agent QB (lets call him Dilfer just so it is easier to type). It’s ok, because all of those other needs will have been just important (in fact, they would be more important in my eyes) to plug into the team while Dilfer is throwing the ball around because Dilfer is not Romo and probably can’t win games in which we give up lots of sacks or let the other team score 30, which Romo HAS done. Sorry, if this scenario plays out, I would AGAIN flip that 2nd rd pick into the next year and maybe take a 2nd rd flyer QB, while filling as many of the other holes as possible. Now this discounts the possibility that Dilfer sucked really bad, TR went down early in the season and we are picking in the top few draft slots. If that happens, getting an elite QB in the top five is fine. In this scenario, I would probably use that extra second for another player somewhere else on the team.

Now we are in the 2015 season and Romo’s back has held up. Maybe we have built enough of a team to be competitive. Maybe some of the DL that we’ve been drafting is starting to get good. Maybe the Tampa Cowboys 2 is starting to pay some dividends. I have a hard time believing the 2014 3rd round pick is the end-all-be-all to the team I just described. Most likely he is down the depth chart a bit or a finally coming into his own and becoming a rotational guy who spells this star or that star. The team I described above can compete without him. And we now have a course to many years of greatness.

The outcome of the 15 season is inconsequential. Once again, I have LOTS of medical opinions on TRs back but the truth is most of it doesn’t matter. This is when he should be cut. It’s a salary cap thing. Gotta go. Guess what. It’s ok. Maybe we found the new version of Brady two years ago (i.e. this years draft), great. You have two firsts. You could trade one for a first the following year and at least a 2nd or more in that draft (it's the 2016 draft if you are following along). Or use your two firsts to move up higher to get some end-all-be-all stud in whatever position suits your fancy.

BUT the most likely scenario is TR’s back is falling apart. TRs cap hit would be crushing the following season and TRs replacement is NOT on the roster. So, there you are with this well built, fairly young team (because that’s what JG is building) which does NOT have a quality QB to lead it. And, oh by the way, TWO first round draft choices. Now you can afford to go all in. Trade your firsts (and even a third or possibly a second depending on the value chart) to get into the top couple of picks to get your franchise QB.

That’s my plan. I’ve always felt that flipping a 3rd or 4th into next year prepares you better in the long run than just grabbing the 115th (or whatever) best player out there. Even if you think this team is one player away (umm… I have some real estate I would love to sell you in the Everglades), you can’t really believe that one player is going to be had in the 3rd Round.

Ok, I put myself out there and it took a lot more words than i set out to write. If you've gotten this far, I would love to hear what you think about my plan.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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