The Cowboys begin training camp with a lot of pieces in order. Dez Bryant is in the house. Sean Lee is up and running. And the team's new free agent pass rusher, Greg Hardy, is ready to get Kraken. Everything is in order. Well, almost. Jeremy Mincey has decided that he is not happy playing for the Dallas Cowboys under his current contract and did not make the trip with the team to Oxnard.
This is perplexing for a couple reasons. First off, this whole contract dispute has been kept under wraps extremely well. Mincey has been looking for a new deal since February but there hasn't been any buzz about it. He participated in the entire offseason program so there wasn't the slightest indication that he could be a potential hold out.
The other thing that is puzzling is that no new deal has been constructed during this time, yet he's still holding out. If it hasn't happened already, it doesn't seem likely that it's going to. What is Mincey trying to accomplish by not attending training camp? Is he really considering not being a part of this team if he doesn't get a new deal?
Mincey had a great year in his first season with Dallas. While Cowboys Nation cringed at the thought of the large void left by DeMarcus Ware, the contributions from Mincey helped fans deal with the breakup a little better. Here's a comparison of these two edge rushers in 2014:
|Player||Sacks||Hurries||PFF pass rush grade||2014 cap hit|
|DeMarcus Ware||11||30||-0.8||$9.67 million|
|Jeremy Mincey||6||37||11.1||$1.25 million|
You can't pass up savings like that.
So entering the 2015 season the Cowboys seem to be in great shape. Mincey is in his final season of his two-year deal and will be a $1.75 million cap hit ($1.5 base, $250,000 bonus). It is the ideal situation for Dallas as another year to help bridge some of the teams younger pass rushers would be extremely meaningful to the team. Randy Gregory is still developing and it would be nice to ease him into the rotation. Plus, Greg Hardy won't be around until game five of the regular season so Mincey is going to be really important to this team for the first month of the season.
So if you are the Cowboys GM, how do you handle this?
This is what Stephen Jones had to say:
"We expect all players under contract to be here. Jeremy obviously did a great job for us last year. He was a big part of our success on the defensive side of the football. We have nothing but the utmost respect for him. But he is under contract. I think when he signed that contract last year -- his representative was there -- he was all for it and they signed it. It's not a long-term contract. It's over at the end of this year. But we fully expect him to be here."
It doesn't seem like Stephen has any desire to throw any more money his way for Mincey's services in 2015. There is no denying that Mincey outplayed his contract, but it's just one season. What is wrong with following it up with another great season and go get your big pay day in 2016? Another year in Rod Marinelli's system is going to make him even better and he could choose to bet on himself and cash in next season.
But could there be an advantage for the Cowboys to pony-up some more cash for Mincey?
While the Cowboys defensive end position seems more stacked now than it has been in years, there are still some unknowns for this team. Greg Hardy is only under contract for one season so it's possible he isn't even around in 2016. While Randy Gregory has a lot of great potential, the father of Cowboys OL coach, Frank Pollack, once told him that "50 cents and potential will get you a cup of coffee." Potential is nice, but production is better. If the cost is reasonable, signing Mincey to an extension could buy the team some more security while they sort things out. Under his current contract, if he has another strong season, it could price him out of Dallas next season so this could be the best chance to get him at an affordable rate.
But he's 31. Why pay more for someone his age when the team can just ride out his current contract?
Because he's worth it.
Some fans draw a comparison to George Selvie and his one-year wonder season in 2013. While Selvie had eight sacks that season, he graded out in the negative so looking past his sack total showed an edge rusher with limited ability. And his skills produced a similar grade in 2014, further validating that Selvie just wasn't a strong defensive end. But that's not the case with Mincey. Looking past his results show a very capable player. And contrast to Selvie, Mincey's second year with the team will be alongside a stronger group of "Rushmen" that could allow him more opportunities to tee off on opposing QBs.
Jeremy Mincey is not a superstar, but he's a good defensive end. The team is going to continue to get younger and establish a nice core of rushers for the future, but the team also needs to be good right now. Jeremy Mincey makes them good right now. The Cowboys have been content with letting veteran free agents walk, especially the older ones and they could very well do the same with Mincey. But they also brought him to Dallas because he had attributes that the coaches felt they could bolster this defense. He could just be getting started.
Whether it be under his current contract or a renegotiated one - hopefully something gives and Mincey gets himself to camp soon. He is an important piece to this defense. For me personally, I am bias as I love Mincey. He's my free agent pet cat who has grown on me. But my interests always centers on what is best for the team. Keeping him around is best for the team.