The offseason is a time when real news is sometimes scarce. But nature abhors a vacuum, and with the paucity of hard information, rumors and speculation rush in to fill the void in the increasingly voracious news cycle. No team is more likely to be the subject of these things than the Dallas Cowboys. They generate as many clicks in social media as any team in the NFL. But much of this is either based on little valid data or outright misperception. Here are some of the hot takes out there right now, with an attempt to weigh just how realistic they are.
One heated topic for Dallas is what the team will do to correct the disastrous situation it had at backup quarterback in 2015. With only Kellen Moore currently on the roster as even a remote possibility to win the job, there is much speculation about using both free agency and the draft to solve that conundrum. More on the draft options later, but the big headline on free agent quarterbacks is about remarks made by Cowboys legend and FOX Sports analyst Troy Aikman.
"I believe as I sit here today that either Johnny Manziel or Robert Griffin III will be in Dallas as a back-up," Aikman said.
The Johnny Football link to Dallas continues its zombie existence, where nothing will kill it. As much as I truly admire Aikman, this just seems too meme-driven. It hearkens back to the story about the mythical draft card that was supposed to have been snatched from Jerry Jones during the 2014 draft. The assumption that the Cowboys, particularly Jones, are still in love with Manziel ignores the absolute train wreck he has been for the Cleveland Browns. His off-field behavior raises red flags that are about the size of the American flags that cover entire football fields during some national anthems around the league. On the field, he has not demonstrated much of anything that says he could be a viable quarterback, particularly in the Cowboys' offensive system. He is Tim Tebow with a bad attitude, miserable work ethic, and a drinking problem. There are reputable writers who say that the team should consider him as a no-risk option, but he has shown all the signs of being a walking cancer that the Cowboys could ill afford in the locker room. Dallas has shown a large tolerance for off-field issues when real talent is concerned. The problem here is that the on-field ability has not been really visible. You kinda have to subscribe to the "never say never" theory with the Cowboys, but in this case, we should all hope for "never" to come into play here.
Griffin is a different story. He has had success before he was beaten down by the way he was used by Washington. His health is a question, as well as how he would fit in the Dallas offense, but at least there is some grounds for at least taking a look at him. Still, it seems a long shot at best. Let's just say that a very large grain of salt needs to be included in taking this possibility into consideration. However, he does seem a far more believable option than Manziel, although that is not saying much.
Another report that has come up concerning the Cowboys is that they have made the decision to part ways with Greg Hardy. This is certainly plausible given both the inconsistent results he brought to the field and the manifold public relations issues he caused. Since much more credible sources have had nothing to say on this, we should wait on further developments. The whole report seems to be based on less than supportive responses from Jason Garrett and Stephen Jones, who were lukewarm at best when questioned about Hardy's future with the team. Garrett especially is known to play things close to his vest, and Stephen Jones is also far less open in his comments on such things than his father. A decision to move on from Hardy would not be surprising for the reasons cited, but would probably not come until after free agency or perhaps the draft, once the team has an idea what other solutions they might come up with to improve the pass rush. And it also has to be said that if Hardy's off field concerns were to be a major factor in his leaving Dallas, then that would not be much of an indication that the earlier idea of Manziel coming to town is workable.
On a much more positive note, there are several names from the Senior Bowl that are now being linked to the Cowboys. The two biggest are probably quarterback Carson Wentz, who was on everyone's radar going in, and wide receiver Braxton Miller, who looks to be one of the real winners of the week, if not the biggest. However, this is just the first major step in talent evaluation, and again, the Cowboys' staff likes to keep things under cover regarding their evaluations of players. Here is Jason Garrett on Miller:
Q: How tricky is it for Braxton Miller to switch from quarterback to receiver?
A: It can be challenging. There's no question about it. You see the game differently. I don't know that much about him. I haven't studied him, but what I do know about him is that he's an awfully good football player. He demonstrated that at Ohio State and to me the strides he's made in 48 hours has been significant. We're coaching these guys hard and it's good to see how well he's responded to that coaching. Clearly a great athlete and a productive football player and someone that has a lot of upside.
Both Wentz and Miller certainly got a lot of attention from the Dallas coaching staff during the week, but helping the players showcase their abilities is part of the job during these all-star games. All of the players on the North squad are under scrutiny. This is a big advantage for the Cowboys going into draft preparation, but it is just one part of the process. That is not to say that Wentz, Miller, or any other player may not have done themselves a world of good during the Senior Bowl. It is just that we don't really know what the staff thinks at this point, and probably won't until after the draft plays out. Even then, we will just be trying to interpret why things went the way they did. It is a lot of fun to play general manager with mock drafts and all. Just be careful how much you read into all the reports from Mobile.
But do enjoy the ride. Arguing the pros and cons of everything is part of the experience here. Feel free to add your input in the comments. Just remember, we are all fans and this is about having a good time.