It was inevitable. Perhaps it was foreordained. The Dallas Cowboys have bitten the proverbial bullet and parted ways with Matt Johnson.
The Dallas Cowboys have reached an injury settlement with S Matt Johnson, officially removing him from the club's injured reserve list.— Brandon George (@DMN_George) September 3, 2014
For over two years, the Cowboys have carried Johnson on the roster through a series of injuries. The safety from Eastern Washington University was touted as a hard-hitting ball hawk when the Cowboys drafted him in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft. But he suffered the dreaded hamstring injury, which, along with a sprained foot, dogged him throughout his two years on the roster. He only appeared in one preseason game in 2013. Now, the Cowboys have decided to move on.
The high regard that the team had for Johnson, combined with his constant injury status, turned him into an almost mythical figure for many. Well, at least for some of us here at Blogging The Boys, where we christened him "The Unicorn". After using a roster spot to keep him around through this year's preseason, the powers that be at Valley Ranch finally surrendered their last bit of hope.
For now. By an odd coincidence, there was a Tweet I saw earlier in the day that discusses just what an injury settlement is.
What is an NFL "injury settlement"? here ya go! NFP http://t.co/PkIXc9xMKu via @footballpost @profootballdoc— jack bechta (@jackbechta) September 3, 2014
(It was retweeted by Clarence HIll, the Cowboys beat writer, so maybe he had been given a tip this was coming.)
Basically, the injury settlement gets the player off IR. I was unable to determine exactly how this affects the cap, but it appears to offer some relief in that aspect as well. So now Matt Johnson is gone forever.
Well, maybe. This jumped out in the article.
Injury settlements can also give a team a chance at getting a player back during that same season. There is a rule in place that the team (agreeing to a settlement) can't resign that player until a minimum of six weeks passes following the amount of weeks of the initial settlement.
If Johnson does not sign with another team, Dallas could bring him back again. Without knowing the details of the settlement, it can't be determined when he could come back to the Cowboys, but there is the chance he could. If not this season, then he might get another shot next year.
As much as I once pulled for Johnson to overcome the injury bugaboo, I hope the team does not try to bring him in again. I think having him come back for another attempt would be a bigger distraction than the signing of Michael Sam. OK, that is a bit of an exaggeration, but to me, trying one more time to cross the rainbow and capture the elusive Unicorn would be representative of a mindset of never giving up on a player. That just seems too much like the way the team used to think about aging, banged up players. Thinking that led to the breakdown of 2010 and the 1-7 start.
It may not be fair to Johnson, but if he is to try to resurrect his career, he needs to do it somewhere else. It would probably be better for him, since the strange football karma of the Cowboys would dictate that he would find success and come back to break our hearts by returning a pick-six to secure a win against Dallas for whichever team he would wind up with, but that may be a justifiable price to keep the correct approach. It is a cold fact, but the NFL is based on keeping those who are capable and parting with those who aren't. No matter how fond the team was of Johnson's potential, the odds of him ever reaching that were becoming vanishingly small. It was time for him to go so the team could focus on players who have a much greater chance of contributing.
It is sad to see a player's dream fade before he ever has a chance to live it. But Johnson was paid for two years, plus whatever he gets in the settlement. I wish him all the best, and will personally miss him. It is just time to quit believing in Unicorns.