Depth Chart -- DE
Clarence Hill of the Star-Telegram quotes the Tuna as stating he may keep eight defensive linemen. That's not an unusual number for a 4-3 squad, but deep for a team that will go heavy on 3-4 sets. Who makes your cut?
I see the depth chart shaping up thusly:
NT: Locks -- Jason Ferguson, LaRoi Glover, Fighting for a backup role: Leonardo Carson, Thomas Johnson
DE Locks -- Greg Ellis, Kenyon Coleman, Chris Canty, Marcus Spears; On the bubble -- Jay Ratliff
Dallas has a nice problem, with six certain guys and three fighting for two spots. I'm guessing -- and it's no more that than without preseason games to judge -- that Ratliff sticks. There's no way a promising rookie gets through waivers and onto the practice squad. The supply of NFL-quality d-linemen is simply too short for demand. Plus, Ratliff is big enough to play inside in a 4-3, which is versatility he will need to hang on as the fifth end. The final battle will be between Carson and Johnson. Dallas must have at least three true tackles, unless it plans on going 3-4 exclusively. I don't think the overhaul will go that far.
The T.O. saga continues to bring melos to the NFL's preseason drama. Yesterday Owens was sent home for unspecified slights. Today, the Philadelphia mediacracy has reached a difficult consensus -- T.O. must go.
If Terrell has pouted his way out of Philly, questions abound. What, if anything, could they get for him? Given his massive salary, I don't see that any other team would take him on. Only a team in a similar situation as the 2004 Eagles, a team one playmaker shy of a title run, would even consider him. And who, especially in the NFC, fits that bill?
If he were cut, that would be a different story. There's always someone who feels they can "change" him. But the bigger issue is money. What team would be willing to sign him up after he's burned the Eagles front office, one of the most respected in the league?
Nobody in Philly should expect much pity. The Eagles were so sure they would get him they offered the 49ers a cut-rate package, less that what Baltimore offered to acquire him. In the end, they got what they paid for.
The bigger question for Dallas fans is how much T.O.'s departure would hurt the Eagles? The answer is both a lot and a little. The Eagles are loaded, and even if Owens leaves they are all but certain to make the playoffs, as long as Donovan McNabb stays healthy. However, they are now becoming alarmingly thin at wide receiver, with Freddie Mitchell long gone, Owens in a time-out and Todd Pinkston out for the season with an injury. I asked K.C. Joyner last month how much Owens' departure would affect Philly and he said it would not hurt then until the playoffs, but almost certainly would affect them then. Look at the 2001, 2002 and 2003 Eagles. All those teams were slowed down by opponents that played aggressively on their wideouts and attacked McNabb.
Now, Eagles fans can argue that they beat the Falcons last season without Owens. But how often can you count on the NFC being as watered down as it was last season? If T.O. has indeed worn out his brief Philly welcome, the Eagles have taken a significant step back to the pack.