If there is anything I've learned over the years being a Cowboys fan it's this, you don't win championships with another team's talent.
We've seen it many times in Dallas in this 12 year post-season drought, with the remarkable exceptions likely being either Terrell Owens or Zach Thomas; both current players. We have seen good come from these worn out vets, like Romo stepping in for Bledsoe and not only shocking this fan nation back to life, but doing so after learning from an intelligent and once very solid quarterback.
Even when Romo took over for him, it wasn't because Drew had forgotten how to play like it appears Brad Johnson has, and it wasn't because he never did anything great. He was a recycled quarterback from Parcels glory days. And he wasn't the only one that "The Tuna" brought in.
I guess Big Bill thought quarterbacking was like coaching, even past the expiration date, cheese can still be good. I don't think Bledsoe or Testaverde were ever comparable to even something like cottage cheese while in Dallas, but they weren't so bad that they single handedly caused seasons to go down the drain.
I mean look at Kurt Warner, how many times has he been written off since that famed season with the Rams in which he led them to a Super Bowl victory, unlike last night as the Cardinals top guy. Yet there he was last night, and nobody was saying, "if Warner can limit his mistakes, they'll have a shot." In fact, the worst I heard said about him was from John Madden seconds after the 45 yard completion to Boldin, and it was simply a comment about his ability to throw it deep when he has enough time in the pocket.
Again, it's less about not taking players well beyond any ability, but taking players that have made a career, a long career, in another city is just not working out too well across the league.
So the talk of picking up players like Ray Lewis and Julius Peppers just sounds like more of the same, and we all know how that's been so far. I was for the Peppers trade at first, but only when I figured there was a chance he'd stick with a defensive end spot. As time goes by it becomes clearer that he wants be a DeMarcus Ware and switch to a 3-4 and the OLB spot.
The problem for the Cowboys there is simple though; Ware isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Jerry Jones is going to compromise his ability to fill other holes on the team to make sure of that. So that leaves the left side where Ellis and Spencer are currently. Spencer is up and coming still, as long as he stays healthy, and has much more upside than Peppers does at this point, and Ellis would likely contemplate suicide before quitting the team if Peppers were signed. That is a distraction that none of us need, let alone these Dallas Cowboys.
And let's say we do sign Peppers and figure out a way to make the whole Peppers-Ellis-Spencer thing work out, you're going to get maybe 4 or 5 years out of Peppers. The same thing goes for Ray Lewis really.
You'd get a few years out of him and there's no telling how he'd play. A backup has never been the leader of a team with any positive outcome, not even Keith Davis. The one thing that the Lewis rumor has going for it is our need for a good inside linebacker, whether Thomas and Kevin Burnett leave or not.
But perhaps the biggest gamble when signing another teams long standing talent is their ability to adjust. Most of the top players that the media is rumoring and drooling over are on teams that have had consistent coaching, meaning one coach for most of their career and in a system that changed little, if at all.
Suddenly you want to take a guy like Lewis, who is practically a house-hold name as power LB, and throw him into a new defensive scheme. Sure, there may be some similarities and overall you'd expect a team to make some accommodations for a guy like that, but then you're also changing what you've been teaching your guys, some of them too young and inexperienced to handle changes like that right away.
Look at Owens, who has been very vocal about his desires to use more of a west coach offense, his bread and butter before joining the Eagles. And even they used him in a similar way, unlike Garrett and Parcels have since he joined Dallas. He was great before coming to Dallas and that's why he was signed, but he hasn't adjusted to this offense well enough to be great again. By great, I mean that a 1,000 yard season shouldn't be a surprise or even worth mentioning.
All in all, while there is something to be gained from seasoned veteran free agents, it's just another project in the long run. Hasn't the Cowboys' "long run" been long enough?
Cowboys Sign Free Agent WR Deonte Thompson
The Dallas Cowboys added some speed to their receiver corps today by signing free agent Deonte Thompson. He played for both the Chicago Bears and Buffalo Bills last season.
Thompson, who turned 29 last month, went undrafted in 2012. He had a quiet to start to his career as a reserve and practice squad guy in Baltimore and Chicago, but finally got a chance to shine with seven starts last year for the Bills. He 27 catches for 430 yards and one touchdown in just 11 games.
The #Cowboys signed WR Deonte Thompson, per agent @davidcanter. He gets 1-year, $2.5M with a $1M signing bonus.
Deonte brings some much-needed speed to the Cowboys offense. He ran a 4.31 40-yard dash as a rookie, and while he's 29 now he still poses more of a vertical threat than the current Dallas receivers.
Given the low salary in this deal, Thompson may not be seen as much than a replacement for Brice Butler near the bottom of Dallas' depth chart. We also have to wait and see what happens with the draft and other moves this offseason to know where he fits into the bigger picture.
For now, though, Cowboys fans can take a little comfort in knowing the front office hasn't completely fallen asleep at the wheel.
Dallas Cowboys: How “Position-Flex” Has Handcuffed The 2015 Draft Class
Over the last few years the Dallas Cowboys have placed a high level of importance on "position flex." They've drafted Swiss-Army knife players which could be moved around to different positions on the field.
By drafting players like Chidobe Awuzie and Xavier Woods last year, as well as Byron Jones in 2015, the Cowboys have tried to find these versatile players who can be used in multiple ways.
While this seems great on paper, this strategy has handcuffed the majority of their 2015 Draft Class, and is a key reason why the Cowboys seem to be in such a tough spot.
The Cowboys' first round pick in 2015, Byron Jones, quickly became a favorite of mine during his rookie season. Incredibly athletic, long, and skilled in coverage, Jones was able to be both a fantastic cover cornerback and a solid middle-of-the-field safety due to his range.
Due to both injuries to his teammates, and Jones' own versatility, the Cowboys coaching staff couldn't keep Jones in just one spot. Once they discovered how great he was in man coverage against tight ends, they became enamored with trying to play him in the box.
Once in the box, Jones' struggles as a run defender were highlighted, and both the organization and the fans soured on him quickly.
Now it is rumored that Byron Jones will be moving back to cornerback full time. And while I do hope this is the case, the fact that he is in year four, and the Cowboys haven't been able to find their first round pick a permanent home is a huge indictment on their ability to evaluate and develop talent.
Okay, hear me out.
The former third round pick of the 2015 Draft was brought in to be the swing tackle for the Cowboys his rookie year. Mainly due to injuries, Green did not see the field for much of his first two seasons. When he did fill in for Tyron Smith at left tackle in 2016, however, Green was very effective.
Of course, Chaz Green's last appearance with the Cowboys was ugly, giving up a plethora of sacks against the Atlanta Falcons. But Dallas might've made their own bed with Green during the beginning of the 2017 season, when they attempted to move him to left guard full time.
Instead of getting the increased work at tackle, and continuing to work as the swing tackle for the team in case of injury, Dallas started Green at left guard early on in the year. He struggled trying to move positions, and looked even worse when trying to move back to tackle.
Once again, the position flex bit the Cowboys right in the backside.
It's 2018 and we are still talking about what position to play La'el Collins on the offensive line. And that is solely on the coaching staff and front office, not Collins.
Collins was brought in as an undrafted free agent in 2015, but was widely regarded as a first round pick heading into that draft. Though he started at left tackle at LSU, Dallas shifted Collins inside to left guard in 2015. After taking over for Ronald Leary as the starter, Collins produced highlight blocks week after week.
Injuries shortened his 2016 campaign, but heading into 2017 the Cowboys decided to shift him back out to right tackle. Despite some early struggles, Collins progressed nicely throughout the year and became a solid starting right tackle. Plus, he has the upside to become one of the top right tackles in the league.
Instead, it is now being rumored the Cowboys might move him back to guard for 2018. And with that news, I continue to pull my hair out over the position-flex decisions this coaching staff and front office like to make.
If the Cowboys want to get the most out of each draft class, and effectively develop their talent, they need to let those players actually develop, rather than move them around each season. Hopefully they now understand this, and allow both Byron Jones and La'el Collins to reach their full potential.
Dallas Cowboys Sign LB Joe Thomas to 2 Year Deal
At long last, the Dallas Cowboys have their first free agent addition of this offseason. Having lost starters Jonathan Cooper and Anthony Hitchens at left guard and linebacker respectively, the team has added depth at LB with Joe Thomas signing a two-year deal.
The 2018 season will actually mark Joe Thomas' second stint with the Dallas Cowboys, as he was signed to their practice squad in 2015. The team that signed Thomas out of South Carolina State following the 2014 draft, the Green Bay Packers, added Thomas back to their active roster for the 2015 season.
Source: Cowboys have agreed to a 2-year deal with free agent LB Joe Thomas. He visited the Cowboys today. Thomas has played in 42 games over the last three seasons with the Packers. He had a career-high 70 tackles in 2016.
Thomas has spent the last three seasons starting eight games for the Packers, recording 70 tackles and an interception in 2016.
A contingency plan of Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith carrying the Cowboys for 16 games at LB requires adequate depth, which is exactly what the Cowboys are typically in the market for come free agency. Waiting longer than usual to make their first splash, the Cowboys absolutely need an addition like Thomas to perform better than last year's FA class.
Used in sub packages by the Packers while also playing special teams - where the Cowboys have lost core players in Keith Smith and Kyle Wilber - Thomas will have a great chance to impress two new Dallas coaches in Ben Bloom and Keith O'Quinn.
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