As the Cowboys get set to play against the Chargers on Saturday, and follow that up with joint practices on Monday and Tuesday, questions inevitably surface about whether there could be a second Laurent Robinson waiting for the Cowboys on the Chargers’ squad.
Predictably, a question about Robinson was asked at yesterday’s press conference, and Garrett responded by recounting how Robinson came to be a Cowboy.
We certainly knew that the Chargers were pretty deep at receiver last year. Really, that’s what our Pro Personnel Department does; they know the rosters all over the league. So independent of practicing against a particular team, we think we have a good sense for the depth of the rosters all around the league at all positions.
You’re always evaluating the 31 other rosters, and you definitely get an up-close look at them when you’re practicing together.
Bill Parcells was fond of saying that "the NFL is a talent acquisition business." Jason Garrett might argue that it’s less of a business and more of a talent acquisition "process", just like everything else at Valley Ranch these days is more about a "process" than ever before. Either way, the Cowboys are constantly looking for ways in which to upgrade their roster, by whatever means available.
Traditionally, the football public has focused on the draft and free agency as the primary means of talent acquisition, but after the break, we’ll review the Cowboys’ 2011 late roster additions to see where the talent acquisition process could lead them this year.
Last year saw a lot of roster churn just before the season started, and that activity continued well into the season. In retrospect, Laurent Robinson was perhaps the highest profile late addition, but Tony Fiammetta and Montrae Holland also turned out to be quality additions, though you might have been hard pressed to see that at the time: all three were released by the Cowboys before they were re-signed by the Cowboys.
But let’s look at the biggest roster moves chronologically: When the Cowboys had to trim their roster to 53 players on Sept. 3 last year, perhaps the most surprising cut came when veteran defensive end Igor Olshansky was handed his papers. A day later, the Cowboys released offensive guard Montrae Holland, who had struggled to get into shape all summer long, and filled his roster spot fullback Tony Fiammetta.
Fiammetta didn’t last long, and was cut four days later - before the Cowboys had even played their first regular season game. Fiammetta had to make room on the roster for Laurent Robinson, who in turn was cut five days later, on Sept. 15, just to re-sign Tony Fiammetta.
A week later, the Cowboys also re-signed Robinson, but it wouldn’t be until Oct. 18 that they would re-sign a by then much fitter Montrae Holland. Here’s an overview of the main moves the Cowboys made last year in their "talent acquisition process".
|Igor Olshansky (DE) cut
|Montrae Holland (G) cut
|Tony Fiammetta (FB) acquired from waivers, Derrick Dockery signed
|Tony Fiammetta (FB) cut
|Laurent Robinson (WR) signed.
|Laurent Robinson (WR) cut.
|Tony Fiammetta (FB) signed. Frank Walker (CB) signed.
|Laurent Robinson (WR) signed.
|Montrae Holland (G) signed.
|Tashard Choice (RB) cut.
|Bruce Carter (LB) Activated from the physically unable to perform list.
This year, the Cowboys are likely looking for a backup tight end, a backup center and a wide receiver. And don’t be surprised if, just like last year, none of the additions are the type of pedigreed names that the pundits like to throw out there just to create pageviews and ratings among the gullible football public.
Here’s Garrett talking about Robinson once more, and perhaps providing a template for the type of player the Cowboys could be looking for this year:
He was a fairly highly regarded guy coming out; a relatively high draft pick and was a talented guy who just hadn’t put it all together for lots of different reasons. He was the odd man out in San Diego, and it was a great opportunity for us to pick him up.
A well coached guy, being around Norv [Turner]. He understands the pass offense. The carry-over to what we do on offense was pretty easy for him. And he fit in great; he was healthy throughout the year; he did a great job for us and earned himself a big contract in Jacksonville.
There's no doubt that the Cowboys will scour the waiver wires once again this season, and they'll almost certainly make a late signing or two. Those late additions will probably not be names that Joe Public would instantly recognize. But neither was Laurent Robinson.
The most obvious placed to look would be teams employing similar schemes, or players the position coaches may have coached before: Are the Packers going to keep all twelve of their wide receivers? Is there a current or former Jet who could be a capable backup center? Which one of the six Chargers or Saints tight ends might be a good fit in Dallas?
Where would you look for this year's late additions?