Take Roscoe Parrish if Austin Walks? ⋆
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Take Roscoe Parrish if Austin Walks?

Dallas Cowboys

Take Roscoe Parrish if Austin Walks?

Today marks the beginning of the rest of Miles Austin’s career as he awaits an imminent offer from the Jets, and as we wait along with him to see just how determined the Jets are to acquire him, there are some things to consider in Dallas.

First and foremost on the agenda for the Cowboys should Austin depart for New Jersey is wide receiver depth and lineup since Austin is projected as the second starter opposite Williams if he stays. The release of Owens was a clear sign that the team is moving in a younger direction that is hopefully more team oriented than Owens’ has ever been.

But if Austin leaves, and that is definitely possible, it would remain Sam Hurd and Isaiah Stanback as the only youth amongst our wide outs. The problem is that both Hurd and Stanback have had issues being productive on the field, when either can stay healthy enough to get on the field.

Should Austin sign with New York, the Cowboys would receive a second round 2009 draft pick in compensation; the Jets pick #52 behind the Cowboys’ second round pick of #51.

Many see the class of receivers in this draft as very talented, spearheaded by the likes of Michael Crabtree, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jeremy Maclin, and Percy Harvin. The Cowboys have a great shot of finding a quality receiver in the second round that can be expected to contribute this season, but many doubts exist that any receiver available in the second round of this years draft will be able to take on the kind of role that Austin is expected to occupy in Dallas for 2009.

With rookie wide receivers it is often not a matter of talent, but of experience that determines success, and very few beyond the top 15 – 20 picks have been able to be effective in their rookie season as a starter. Even in more limited roles many of these receivers have trouble adjusting to life at the pro level, see DeSean Jackson in 2008 as he celebrated early and tossed a ball behind him before he broke the plane of the goal line.

So the question becomes what exactly will the Cowboys do to replace Austin? Having veteran receiver Patrick Crayton does help to ease concerns as he held the number 2 slot until Williams arrived in 2008, but Crayton has always been most effective playing in the slot. It’s possible that Hurd or Stanback can step up and produce, and stay healthy enough to assume that starting role, but after two off-seasons to evaluate each, that possibility is seeming unlikely.

At this point, it is even hard to say if any receiver in this years draft would be any better than Hurd or Stanback, though gems have been found at worse positions than day one of the draft.

So many fans are asking about the possibility of Dallas bringing in a veteran receiver in free agency to fill the hole. I suppose it’s a sign of desperation and panic that anyone has suggested the troubled Matt Jones, which again makes me happy that some fans aren’t coaches or executives on this team. Signing Matt Jones would be tantamount to signing Adam Jones, and we all know how well that worked out for us.

Jones was a solid player for us early in 2008, filling in due to injuries, but before he could get into his own rhythm he was again barred from playing because of his immature actions away from the game. The guy may be able to play at a Pro Bowl caliber, but so long as he continues to butt heads with the NFL’s personal conduct policy, he’ll never be anything more than a good backup.

Matt Jones hasn’t had as many issues as Pacman did, but neither has former Giants receiver Plaxico Burress and nobody seems to be in a hurry to bring him here. Given the way the Giants’ offense suffered after Burress was suspended/injured, it’s a fair bet that he was on his way to a hall of fame career. But with so many players experiencing legal difficulties of their own doing, the trend in the league this year seems to be finding better character.

There is also some better tamed veteran help out there in Marvin Harrison, who maybe has a year or two left of decent production, and Torry Holt, who while getting up there in age, still has a few years of a production that we could closely match with Patrick Crayton.

None of the options seem to be at the top of anyone’s list, though there are several available to us. Another option is for Jerry Jones to make another of his now infamous draft-day trades to move up and grab better talent, but Jones has stated that he likes not having a first round pick this year because of the potential for next year to be uncapped. It’s a sentiment that he backed up by trading his 2009 first round pick to Detroit in order to secure first round talent without dealing with the cap numbers associated with a rookie first round pick.

And now we have news out there that the Bills, since acquiring Terrell Owens in free agency, are shopping fifth year receiver Roscoe Parrish around the league. Parrish has not been a huge contributor for the bills since being drafted by the Bills in the second round of the 2005 draft, but his numbers have been solid by the Cowboys standards.

Parrish has averaged 263 yards and 24.25 receptions over each year he’s played in the NFL, and has five receiving touchdowns. Compare that to Miles Austin (118 yards, 4.5 receptions, 3 touchdowns) and it actually seems as though Parrish would be the better guy to have. Parrish will be 27 when the season starts, and Austin will be 26, but the big difference seems to be that Parrish actually started all 16 games in each of 2006 and 2007, and 13 games in 2008 while Austin only started 16 games in 2007 and 12 in 2008.

Experience, as I’ve said, seems to be worth as much as talent with wide receivers anymore and Parrish has more of it to offer. To make it even sweeter, the only reason Parrish didn’t start all 16 games in 2008 was a torn ligament in his thumb, which has been surgically repaired.

Looking at their combine stats, Parrish and Austin have very similar speed, if Parrish isn’t faster than Austin, but Austin is bigger than Parrish all around.

So maybe I’ve got it all wrong, but it looks like there might be some hidden talent out there to replace Austin if the Jets do decide to get tricky with their offer, which would leave the Cowboys an extra second round pick to either draft a good receiver to groom, or fill another need for the 2009 season.

Bryson Treece

Nothing gives me greater joy than the experience of being a Dallas Cowboys fan come time to check another victory on the schedule every Sunday. I live Inside the Star everyday and blog on it occasionally, as well. Follow us on Twitter - @InsideTheStarDC

2 Comments
  • wpod

    I am a long time Bills fan who would hate to lose Roscoe Parrish, though I understand because the Bills have a logjam at WR and Roscoe is a luxury. However, I cannot believe someone bothered to post about Roscoe and didn’t even mention his skills as a PR. He is second only to Devin Hester as a PR and he can definitely take it to the house given even the slightest crease. Indeed, this is his major value to the Bills, who regained their status as the #1 ST team in the NFL in 2008. He has never really developed as a WR in Buffalo but I and many Bills fans believe that is primarily because Buffalo’s revolving door of clueless OCs have never used him correctly. If you line him up in the slot and design a few plays to get Roscoe out in open space…look the %=&# out.
    He’s worth a 4th round pick in trade IMO and that’s being objective, not a homer (Buffalo took him with a second round pick in 2005). His current contract runs through 2011 and calls for a total of $6.1 million over that timeframe. I don’t know if he’s fast than Miles Austin in a straight line and he’s definitely smaller, but the point with Roscoe Parrish is he doesn’t run in a straight line – Devin Hester is seriously the only guy in the NFL who is more dangerous with the ball in the open field.

  • wpod

    To be clear, the Bills aren’t shopping Roscoe because he doesn’t have value, but rather because he does. They do have more WR than they need but the biggest reason is Ralph Wilson’s notorious tight-fistedness. The Bills are trying to avoid having to trade Pro Bowl LT Jason Peters on Draft Day but to do that they need to improve their offer to Peters into the Jordan Gross range (Gross signed a $10 million per season contract in FA to set the new market for good young LTs). That is Heimlich maneuver territory for old Ralph (the Bills have loads of cap space – it’s purely about the outlay of cash, especially the upfront money).
    Roscoe Parrish may be the 2nd best PR in the NFL and an underrated WR, but if the Bills replace his $3 million 2009 salary with a 4th round rookie, there is the money to bump up the offer to Peters and keep him. Some team is going to get great return for a 4th round pick. The Browns are reportedly already sniffing around.

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