There has been a lot of speculation this offseason as to whether or not veteran Defensive Lineman Tyrone Crawford would remain with the Dallas Cowboys. But now that free agent addition Robert Quinn has been hit with a two-game suspension, could Crawford's spot on the 2019 roster be more secure?
With several big contracts to figure out for Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, and perhaps Byron Jones, the $7 million in salary cap space that Dallas saves by releasing Crawford could be put to good use. But that also means losing the player; Tyrone may not be a star but he wouldn't be easily replaced.
Solid and versatile, Crawford has started in 74 games for the Cowboys over the last five years at both defensive end and tackle. He's never lived up to his contract, which Dallas mistakenly gave him when they expected he would become a breakout star under Rod Marinelli, but he has been one of their most reliable defensive players and a team captain over that time.
When Dallas added six defensive linemen this offseason between free agency (Quinn, Kerry Hyder, Christian Covington) and the draft (Trysten Hill, Joe Jackson, Jalen Jelks), it felt like Crawford's run was coming to an end. He's easily the most overpaid player on the Cowboys roster and appeared to have been pushed out of the starting lineup at both DE and DT.
But then Robert Quinn got a two-game suspension. And those two games are against division goes in the Giants and Redskins.
Are the Cowboys prepared to risk being weak at defensive end in those pivotal games?
Veteran Guarantee Rule Creates Dilemma
You might be thinking, “This is easy! Just keep Crawford for the two weeks that Quinn is out, and then release him. No big deal!”
That plan would work except for one major roadblock; vested veterans in the NFL have their base salaries fully guaranteed if they're on a team's roster for Week One. That means Dallas would have to pay out the full $7 million Crawford's owed in 2019 even if he's only here for two weeks.
At that point, the Cowboys would be better off just keeping Tyrone for the full year. As we've said, he's still a solid player who can handle multiple positions. He's not a liability on the field.
On the other hand, that rule could be why Dallas just cuts Crawford regardless of any other factors. They may be content to ride with Taco Charlton, Kerry Hyder, Dorance Armstrong, and Joe Jackson for those two weeks, especially given the perceived softness of their opponents.
While division games are critical, neither New York or Washington project to be contenders this year. Bottom line; Dallas should be able to beat them with or without Tyrone Crawford.
Another big factor is if Randy Gregory is granted his reinstatement by the NFL. If Gregory is back for Week One then this becomes a moot point, assuming he's been able to stay in game-ready physical condition during this time away.
In the end, this will comes down to how badly Dallas needs the cap space gained by cutting Tyrone Crawford. If they can afford to keep him then they probably will, especially with Quinn being out and Gregory perhaps needing a few weeks to get back in the NFL groove.
But clearly, if you were like me and didn't think Crawford was making the team in 2019, Robert Quinn's suspension has added a new wrinkle to that discussion.