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Cowboys News: Orton Is History, And Doom And Gloom Are In The Forecast

Dallas gets one training camp distraction out of the way. We'll miss you, Cap'n Neckbeard. Not.

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes in doing news links for the Cowboys, I'm not sure what I should lead with. Today is not one of those days.

Reports: Cowboys Set To Release QB Orton - Blogging The Boys

I approve this message. Given that Kyle Orton would likely have shown up for camp out of shape just to protect his income and would have been a huge and distracting story, this is certainly for the best.

Timing of Kyle Orton's release a surprise - Dallas Cowboys Blog - ESPN

The release does raise the question: Why now? Todd Archer has the same question.

For all of the threats of coming after his signing bonus money if Orton retired, which could have been up to $3.4 million, or docking his base salary nearly $150,000 for skipping a physical, the minicamp and the workouts, the Cowboys decided having a player, especially a quarterback, not fully vested in the program was not worth it. 

My initial reaction is surprise. My second reaction is: why not do this sooner?

Personally, I think the staff just had to convince themselves he really was not coming back with his heart into playing. Of course, I have been advocating his release since he didn't show for the first day of OTAs, and rather expecting it to come eventually since the first rumors about retirement surfaced right after the season. - Orton's 'Cut' Clarifies Cowboys Finances

Our old friend KD Drummond dissects both the cap and real dollars impact of the move in his usual insightful style.

If he had played, Orton would have counted $4.3775m against the 2014 cap. With his retirement, there is no base salary to pay, so only his prorated signing bonuses count against the cap. With a cap hit of $1.1275m, the retirement actually gives Dallas $3.25 million of more space. However, the remaining unamortized bonus that was to be charged to 2015 and 2016 ($1.1275m respectively) now hits the 2015 cap as "dead money", totaling $2.255m.

If Orton had retired, Dallas would have gained $4.3775 million of 2014 space, and had no future dead money.


Meanwhile, in other news . . .

BTB Interviews Cowboys Executive Vice-President Charlotte Jones-Anderson - Blogging The Boys

Make sure you check out the interview Dawn Macelli had with arguably the third most influential member of the Jones family, behind father Jerry and brother Stephen. After all, she is responsible for the pictures that grace these news summaries.

Filling out Dallas Cowboys' roster: Running backs - ESPN

Filling out the Dallas Cowboys' roster: Safeties - ESPN

Todd Archer continues his look at the roster with a couple of installments. He touches on our favorite unicorn.

(Matt) Johnson's lack of health has kept him off the field for the last two seasons, and he has run out of options. He did little in the spring because of a hamstring injury. He has to show he can stay healthy and make plays. The coaches say he did it in the limited work he has had over two seasons, but the Cowboys can be only so patient.

Training camp battles: defensive tackle - Dallas Cowboys Blog - ESPN Dallas

Calvin Watkins joins in the fun with his look at the Rushmen.

Last Time Out: Grading The RBs & FBs in 2013

The mothership takes a bit of a different angle, trying to base the expectations for this year on what the players did last year, not matter what level. And Bryan Broaddus gives his overview of things.

Scout's Take: There is going to be some serious competition between Joseph Randle and Ryan Williams if this front office decides that it can only keep three running backs on the roster. But a player that you should not lose track of, because he is going to get plenty of work in the second half of these preseason games, is rookie Ben Malena. If you never saw him during his career at Texas A&M, you are in for a treat. He doesn't have the perfect height for a running back, but he is extremely tough and talented with the ball in his hands. He is explosive to and through the hole with the ball in his hands and he knows how to finish runs. Where Malena should shine as well is with his work on special teams, which gives him an advantage over Randle and Williams. Numbers might not be in Malena's favor, but my gut says that he could make himself difficult to release after training camp with his play. - Bryan Broaddus

Wise man, that Broaddus.

Murray: Need To Play All 16 To Be Among Elite RBs

Running backs in general were a big topic in today's news. The idea is that the Cowboys' running back will unquestionably be considered one of the NFL's elite if he can just stay on the field.

Only McCoy and Jamaal Charles ran for more than 1,300 yards last year. It's possible if Murray stayed healthy he'd have put together at least a 1,300-yard season, and he said his health is great right now as the Cowboys prepare for training camp in a week.

Mailbag: Who Are The New Captains On Defense?

Short article, but it is a good question.

Bucky's Best: Drew Brees heads NFL's most clutch quarterbacks -

Nice to see Tony Romo get some respect.

6) Tony Romo, Dallas Cowboys: The sight of Romo's name on a list of clutch performers will make some Cowboys fans cringe, but the three-time Pro Bowler doesn't get enough credit for coming through in crucial situations. Romo is one of the most efficient fourth-quarter quarterbacks, completing 69.6 percent of his passes and compiling a 105.6 passer rating in the final period last season. Critics, of course, will point out some memorable interceptions with the game on the line, but the fact that he has orchestrated 11 fourth-quarter comebacks in the past three seasons suggests that he routinely comes through for the Cowboys when it matters. Now, I know these truths won't absolve Romo from the harsh criticism of some unrealistic football fans, but this should shed some light on why NFL evaluators hold the quarterback in high regard as a clutch playmaker.

Can contract year pay off for Dallas Cowboys LB Bruce Carter? - ESPN

I'd say the team and fans are really hoping for it to. Archer runs down some history of how things have gone in past years with players in contract years.

Way back in 2007, Ken Hamlin joined the Cowboys on a one-year deal. He put up a career-high five picks and was named to the Pro Bowl. Prior to the 2008 season, he signed a six-year, $39 million deal with the Cowboys that included $15 million guaranteed. He was cut after the 2009 season. 

Some contract years have not been as productive. Cornerback Mike Jenkins saw the Cowboys add Brandon Carr in free agency with a $50 million deal and draft Morris Claiborne with the sixth overall pick. Jenkins was coming off shoulder surgery, did his rehab elsewhere and started only two of 13 games in 2012. He signed with the Oakland Raiders.

5) Who Fills In For Sean Lee At Middle Linebacker?

This is possibly the biggest position question for the defense. The four writers giving an opinion give a split decision between Justin Durant and a player that hasn't even suited up yet.

Rowan Kavner: I'll start out by saying I think Holloman should get a chance as a front-runner to start at one of the linebacker spots, but my answer for this is a guy we haven't seen in a Dallas uniform. The signing of Rolando McClain was as low-risk as it gets, and even if McClain plays 50 percent of the defensive snaps, the Cowboys are only surrendering a sixth-round pick for a seventh-rounder. One could guess with the way the contract was structured, the Cowboys believe he could end up playing significant snaps, and I'll say he winds up the starter at middle linebacker.

What national experts and former players are saying about the Cowboys heading into training camp | Dallas Morning News

In case you haven't noticed, the general view is that the Cowboys are gonna, well, suck this year.

Sports Illustrated's Peter King:

King said the Cowboys defense will be 'one of the worst' in the NFL in 2014.

"With DeMarcus Ware and Lee gone for 2014 (Ware was cut in a cap move), and defensive tackle Jason Hatcher not re-signed, I cannot see any way new defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli can make a strong defense out of what he has left in Dallas. Talk about pressure on Tony Romo," King wrote. "The defense will be one of the worst in the league."

Less than a week until camp starts!

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