Before the NFL Draft and especially now in its aftermath, Cowboys fans have been speculating what 2010 players will not be with the team next season. My CowboysBlog colleague gave his thoughts on Roy Williams’ future in a post yesterday (link). I actually disagree with Joe and think Roy will still be with us next season, but we’ll get to him later. For now, here are the significant members of last season’s roster who I believe have played their last game as Cowboys:
Marc Colombo – The selection of Tyron Smith only confirmed what most of us assumed prior to the draft; Colombo’s done in Dallas. He was a quality starter for us from 2006-2009, with only one real blemish coming from the playoff loss to the Vikings and his inability to stop Ray Edwards. Unfortunately, similar performances became the theme of his 2010 season and now the team has moved on. Marc joined us after being dumped by Chicago as a injury-plagued bust, so overall you have to feel good about what he gave us and how his career turned out.
Marion Barber - There are some who believe Barber would be a better player for our rotation next year than Tashard Choice. If the football field was the all that mattered, you might be able to convince me that Barber will return. But we know the equation is more complex, and salary and personality are at the root of Barber’s impending release. While not making a fortune, Barber’s salary is much than you’d want to pay a situational player. Also, after his dress code incident and a February police-related issue at a Los Angeles hotel, Barber’s locker room presence and public demeanor appear to conflict with Jason Garrett’s image for his players.
Marcus Spears – When last season ended Spears removed all personal items from Cowboys facilities and sent out farewell messages via Twitter. Even if Dallas was going to make him an offer to stay, I think Spears has resolved that he won’t get a fair deal here and is ready for a change of scenery. I don’t really blame him, honestly. I could see Spears blossoming as a 4-3 defensive tackle and maybe he believes that as well. He knows he’ll never become a star the way he’s used here and he’s still young enough to make something bigger happen for his career.
Alan Ball - I’ve seen many people predict that Ball will move back to corner and stay on the team as a versatile backup in the secondary. It easily could happen, but isn’t that the role Akwasi Owusu-Ansah is projected to play? Do you really need two CB/FS guys on your bench? Let’s assume they bring back Sensabaugh and sign a new safety starter in free agency. Now you’re looking at Newman, Jenkins, Scandrick, and rookie Josh Thomas (hopefully) at corner, and then Free Agent X, Sensabaugh, Owusu-Ansah, Barry Church, and special teams leader Danny McCray at safety. That’s nine players, and I didn’t even mention cornerback/kick-returner Bryan McCann. Is Ball worth losing a young prospect and maybe stopping the progress of those you still have?
Sam Hurd - If I agreed with Joe about Roy Williams being released, I might make room for Hurd. He’s a decent backup receiver and an exceptional special teamer. But there’s just no place for him on my projected roster. Kevin Ogletree is much more dangerous in the offense and Dwayne Harris is being hailed as one of the best value picks of the draft. You can’t keep them all, even when they give us plenty of reasons like Hurd has.
Montrae Holland - His most famous involvement last year came in the performance-based benching of Leonard Davis during a loss to the Tennessee Titans. Holland has performed adequately when called upon due to Kyle Kosier’s injuries, but he’s not a guy you’d want long-term. Kosier’s contract expiring has led some to wonder if he won’t be brought back and Holland will be given the starting job, but those folks are underrating Kosier’s ability. I feel confident they will either bring Kyle back or maybe upgrade with another free agent. Either way, and especially after seeing Dallas draft David Arkin, I don’t see Holland returning.
Obviously there are other players like Alex Barron and Phil Costa who don’t factor into next year’s plans, but those are easy calls. The funny thing is that for not being highlighted here, Barron and Chris Gronkowski may have had two of the most significant impacts on the 2010 season. Barron putting Brian Orakpo in the Million Dollar Dream in Week One cost us a victory and seemed to set the tone for our entire season. Gronkowski, for all we know, may have only made one mistake all year. But that error ended Tony Romo’s season.
As I mentioned earlier, Roy Williams is a player speculated about as a potential salary-related release. Terence Newman and Leonard Davis have also been talked about. I don’t believe any of these guys are leaving, and here’s why:
Roy Williams - Next year his contract becomes much more financially sensible to shed. You actually would be paying Roy more to leave than to play if he’s cut this offseason. If his salary just $3-$4 million, nobody would have a problem with his production. He’s an exceptional run-blocker and a legitimate redzone threat. We saw how well he was clicking with Romo early in 2010. With Austin and Bryant both showing proneness to injury and Dez’s conduct still a concern, Roy is a necessary security blanket. If nothing else, he’s an above-average third receiver.
Terence Newman - I keep hearing “Nnamdi Asomugha” (and seeing it spelled many different ways), but ultimately it’s a bad business move. Asomugha is roughly three years younger than Newman, but still turns 30 this July. Why give a record-breaking contract to a guy who’s about to start the downhill portion of his career? Newman had career-highs in tackles and interceptions in 2010. It’s a safe assumption that he and Mike Jenkins will look like Pro Bowlers again with the improvements Rob Ryan brings to the front seven and better safety play behind them. Also, like Roy Williams, his contract becomes much cheaper to cut a year from now.
Leonard Davis - I might have bought into this one if not for hearing DallasCowboys.com’s Nick Eatman relay that offensive line coach Hudson Houck was adamant that the team still believed in Davis and had him in their future plans. And really, what’s the alternative? Would you keep Holland as the starter? Would you go with a small-school rookie in David Arkin? Would you pay Davis a ton to leave and then have to sign someone else to take his place? It just doesn’t make much sense based on all factors.
As always, these are just one guy’s opinions. Do you disagree? Post a comment and I’ll be sure to respond.