It's here, the 2011 NFL season is finally upon. During the long offseason and lockout the BTB community has discussed which Dallas Cowboys players should be helped out the front doors once said figurative and literal doors are unlocked and opened for business. After, umm, a difficult season and now with a new head coach intent on doing things "a certain way," it's only natural to assume some players will be released. Some will lose their training camp battles, but a few may be getting a pink-slip before the signatures on a new CBA are even dry.
The debate over many of these players is over. They have been released to create cap space and/or to get rid of some burdensome contracts for under-performing players. Roy Williams is one such case. The debate to cut Roy followed various reasoning: doesn't deserve his salary, not the right kind of guy, waste of a roster spot...but now what?
Roy was not playing up to his contract. No debate. But as a #3 receiver he could have provided production that will be missed. In 2009 Roy had nearly 40 receptions, 600 yards, and 7 touchdowns. In six games with Romo in 2010 Roy had over 300 yards and 5 touchdowns. Dez is a rising superstar, but still young and learning the playbook, and Miles Austin is still only one man. After Roy Williams, the cupboard is pretty bare.
Kevin Ogletree, Sam Hurd, Dwayne Harris, Jesse Holley, Manny Johnson, Teddy Williams, Troy Bergeron, Jeff Moturi...so who do you want in the slot or to start as the #2 in case of injury?
The Cowboys are in need of a slot receiver, though the talk of moving Miles to the slot in 3-WR sets could open up the options of getting a sideline receiver that could also backup Miles or Dez in case of an injury. But the current situation could mean a few things, even that an in-house receiver gets his chance to shine. First, Kevin Ogletree and Sam Hurd may get another year in Dallas to prove themselves. Dwayne Harris may see more reps early this year. Holly and Manny could get their shot at the game day roster as more than just special teams guys. Teddy is a burner, but likely not ready yet, but could Troy Bergeron show he isn't just a practice squad guy? The wide receiver camp competition just got a shot of adrenaline.
The Cowboys could be looking to sign a wide receiver in free agency, but with cap issues (even after all of today's cuts) and money needed to sign Doug Free, Stephen Bowen, and at least one safety (seems like Abram Elam is at the top of the list) the Cowboys aren't likely to spend big on the position. That means names like Santonio Holmes, Sydney Rice, and Randy Moss are not on Garrett's radar. But there are some interesting options that are available, but admittedly some of these might be out of the price range.
Derrick Mason: A savvy veteran could provide some leadership to this young group and his years of experience should make the transition quick and easy. Mason is in the golden years of his career, but he could certainly provide a threat out of the slot with his precise route running and toughness.
Steve Breaston and Early Doucet: The Cardinals have some issues and have their two human (as opposed to Fitz the super-human) receivers on the free agent list. Neither is the prototype slot receiver, but both have speed and shown some glimpses of talent while faced with poor quarterback play, Kurt Warner excluded.
James Jones: A possible reunion with wide receivers coach Jimmy Robinson could make Jones an option for the Cowboys. Now, much like Alvin Harper, Jones may have been just a product of the system he played in and doesn't have the greatest hands, but is worth consideration.
Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee: The Chargers have serious wide receiver issues with Vincent Jackson unsigned and upset, and their next best receivers are free agents. They both have made statements that make it seem like they think highly of themselves and would likely not want to be stuck behind Miles and Dez, but could help bolster the Cowboys wide receiver depth.
Terrell Owens: Yeah, no
T.J. Houshmandzadeh: A strong receiver with goods hands and clean routes, but he also appears to have a slight diva "I want the ball" attitude that might not mix well in with the Cowboys locker room and Garrett's right kind of guy culture.
My Personal Favorite...
Lance Moore: A smart, quick wide receiver that often doesn't get the respect he deserves. While other Saints receivers are almost exclusively deep threats, Moore is the slot receiver that Drew Brees looks for in tough situations when he must move the chains. That being said, I doubt the Saints would let him go without a bidding war, but Moore would be worth the money in my book.
Finally, something that makes me go hmmmmmm: Could we see more than a few sets with Felix Jones in the backfield and DeMarco Murray in the slot?