Welcome to our first mailbag of the offseason, and it might be a long one if there’s a lockout. Before we get to the mail, let’s address two issues:
Trading Dez Bryant
It’s dumb. The Cowboys haven’t gotten any offers for Bryant and are not expecting to trade him. Some readers misinterpreted my blog post from a few days ago that the team was trying to trade Bryant. A team source said he would listen to offers for Bryant, but never said he would trade him. Last year, another source -- when asked would he consider bringing outside linebacker Greg Ellis back to the Cowboys -- said yes. But it never happened.
NFL teams, the Cowboys included, talk about players all the time and how they would fit. In Ellis’ case, it wouldn’t work because the coaches felt confident Anthony Spencer was going to be fine as the starter and the backup linebackers would provide adequate relief for him if necessary.
In the Bryant case, a hypothetical question about what you could get for him considering the Cowboys' offseason needs was the basis of what was being said. Nobody reported Bryant was on the trade blocks.
The Rooney Rule
Some readers are upset with the Rooney Rule, which forces NFL teams to interview minority candidates. The rule was enacted because NFL teams didn’t consider interviewing minorities on a regular basis for head coaching jobs. All minority coaches have ever asked for is a fair chance to become head coaches, and it didn’t appear that was happening.
John Wooten, who is the chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, sends NFL teams a list of minority coaches that should be considered for head coaching positions. The other day I found a list from 2008 naming 16 coaches. Of that list, Leslie Frazier, Hue Jackson, Raheem Morris, Ron Rivera and Mike Singletary became head coaches. Former Cowboys receivers coach Ray Sherman is also listed but hasn’t gotten a head coaching job. I think the Rooney Rule works, but readers and maybe some of us in the media should ask some more questions before criticizing it.
Enough of the soap box. Let’s get to the mailbag.
Q: Most mock drafts have Da'Quan Bowers, Nick Fairley, Marcell Dareus, Patrick Peterson and Prince Amukamara all going before the Cowboys draft at No. 9. Do you see any possibility in which Carolina would swap picks with Dallas and pick up Blaine Gabbert or Jake Locker at No. 9 -- since that's where they are projected to go -- and the Cowboys pick up an elite defender to fit in nicely with Rob Ryan's new defense? -- Lawrence Torres (Bakersfield, Calif.)
A: The Cowboys have a chance to get a premium player at No. 9, and I don’t believe a trade is necessary. Last season, they traded up to get Bryant, a premium player who fell in the draft for off-the-field issues. Getting an elite pass rusher or safety is the way to go for the Cowboys at No. 9. But if a guy like Von Miller, for instance, is gone, then maybe you get Amukamara or somebody else. Remember there are holes on the offensive line, and it’s uncertain if the Cowboys will re-sign Kyle Kosier as the left guard for 2011. There are many possibilities for a top 10 pick, and the Cowboys can’t go wrong here with whoever they select.
Q: Despite accomplishments by Jay Ratliff,I believe that he's a tad overrated. I know that he is a Pro Bowler, but that is more of a popularity contest at this point. I feel that the Cowboys should look at Marcel Darius of Alabama and move Ratliff to defensive end. I've said for three years, he’s too small for nose guard. He consistently gets blown off the ball in the run game but his speed would be great at end. Your thoughts? -- Byron (Indianapolis)
A:That’s an interesting take on Ratliff. I thought he was double-teamed plenty of times last season, which is why he didn’t get to the quarterback more or create enough pressure in 2010. A move to end might be better for him, and it’s something the team tried to do a few years ago. Ratliff didn’t seem thrilled with it then, but knowing the team player that he is, a move such as this might sit well with him now. The problem I had with Ratliff was his lack of quarterback pressures and his inconsistency at stopping ball carriers for no gain. Rob Ryan, the new defensive coordinator, might make some position changes or keep things the same but change how certain players do things technique-wise.
Q: Do you feel Felix Jones can be an every-down back? Should the Boys look to draft one? -- Mike T (Syracuse)
A: It was very interesting to note when Marion Barber was healthy toward the end of the season, the Cowboys kept him on the sidelines and Felix Jones remained the starter. Those last four games of the 2010 season might have been an audition for Jones to show he can carry the ball 15-20 times a game. If the Cowboys feel he can, then Tashard Choice is the No. 2 and Barber will be released.
Q: Trading Dez Bryant would be a dumb mistake. We all know which of the receivers need to be traded (Roy Williams). -- Andrew Maxwell (Colombia, Maryland)
A:I’m not sure if you can get anything for Williams. At best, if you cut him, it’s a $12.9 million cap hit -- and the Cowboys might be willing to do that. Bryant is not going anywhere. Never said he was. But Williams might. A trade isn’t happening, but releasing him is a possibility.
Q: Dallas clearly has the worst secondary in the NFL. Their secondary was clearly the reason for half of their losses. Dave Campo is the secondary coach. It’s time for him to hit the road. He clearly does not have a clue how to coach their personnel. The Cowboys never win on third down, and the coach does not know now to get his point across. Wasn’t he fired once before? -- Williams McClelland (Port Neches, Texas)
A: It’s easy to blame the coach for the problems with the secondary. In 2009, when Mike Jenkins and Terence Newman reached the Pro Bowl, Campo was the secondary coach. I think Jenkins had an off year and is poised for a bounce-back season in 2011. Newman might get released in a cost-savings move. There are some in the front office that aren't too happy with him, but Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones and Jason Garrett will make the final call on Newman. I think he’ll be here unless the Cowboys decide to get a cornerback in the first round.