Let me tell you who the happiest person associated with the Dallas Cowboys is right now. It’s not Zach Thomas, although he’s probably pretty happy with getting a deal worth $3 million. And it’s not Wade Phillips or Jerry Jones, although as you’ll see below they’re pretty giddy. Nope, the happiest person in Dallas right now is Akin Ayodele’s real-estate agent. I kid – sort of.
Seriously, what are the Cowboys going to do at the ILB position now? There just doesn’t seem to be enough room at the inn. You would think that someone has to go. Bradie James isn’t going anywhere. Kevin Burnett was an integral part of the defense last year, the Cowboys coaches really liked what he brought to the nickel/dime sets so I’m guessing they’ll keep him since he’s young and improving. That leaves Akin Ayodele, last year’s starter and the enigmatic Bobby Carpenter.
Well, from the tone of Wade and Jerry’s comments reported over at the DMN blog, it appears that Zach Thomas is already slated to be the starter this year. Here’s Wade:
"He's a playmaker," Wade said. "He'll have to come in and prove to the team and all those things but I think it will be a short time before everyone knows what kind of player he is. ... That's his goal and we feel like he's a starter in the league. He's been to the Pro Bowl seven times. My feeling is you get all the good players you can get, and it will shake out."
"I shouldn't say (who's starting), in fairness to everyone concerned here," Jones said. "But he's going to be playing on a defense that gives him the opportunity to be the best he can be, and that's gonna be hard to beat out."
Anybody here not think that Wade and Jerry basically anointed Zach as the starter? You also have to remember that Zach said he was looking to go somewhere he'd start, that was an important part of the deal for him. I'm guessing sometime during the negotiations the Cowboys brass made it clear they thought that, too.
I don’t know where Akin Ayodele is today, but wherever he is I can guarantee you he ain’t happy. So the question becomes are the Cowboys content to keep Akin around as a backup at his salary? And is Akin Ayodele willing to take a demotion quietly?
Also, what does this mean for Bobby Carpenter? If they keep Ayodele that pushes Carpenter down on the depth chart and is all the more reason to try and trade him for whatever the Cowboys can get. If Akin is let go, then Carpenter is still in the same spot he was this year and will have to use training camp to get himself some playing time.
As Wade said today about the ILB position – I’d rather have a logjam than no logs at all.