- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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When Jerry Jones said the other day that the door was still open for Felix Jones to return to the Dallas Cowboys, my first thought was something like, "Of course it is. Jerry Jones doesn't like to let anyone go." Calvin Watkins had a similar thought, and he has a column on ESPNDallas.com wondering why the players are immune to Jones' efforts to make things "uncomfortable" around the Cowboys:
If the Cowboys are going to ascend to another level, putting players on notice is key. Jones can't worry about hurting feelings, and in some ways he needs to pull away from his close relationships with the players.
Jones needs to cut people. He needs to make it known that three consecutive seasons of missing the playoffs is not acceptable.
Maybe the coaches know that.
That's a different story. And it has to change.
Calvin's basic point is that roster churning has its benefits and that the Cowboys seem to avoid doing it if at all possible. Franchising Anthony Spencer, in my opinion, was a move made out of fear. It was as though the team asked itself, "Well, how would we replace him?" and then decided they didn't want to think about creative or economically sensible ways to answer the question. The result is that they're pressed right up against the salary cap and can't operate in free agency.
A player like Jay Ratliff can call out Jones in the locker room and get busted for a DUI six weeks after one teammate died and another went to jail for the same crime, and it's made clear to him his job is completely safe. The offensive line can be one of the worst in the entire league and be told it just needs more time to come together. Felix Jones can blow chance after chance for years and years to fulfill his promise and instead of moving on and making a clean break, the owner leaves the door open for him to return.
It's an issue for which Jerry Jones has taken a lot of heat, and the truth is he leaves himself vulnerable to this criticism. If you're going to bellow about accountability and make change for change's sake on the coaching staff (where continuity is actually a proven asset), then you ought to be willing to do it along the roster as well. Or, as Calvin suggests, make it clear that roster changes are at least on the table. Jones' reluctance to do so indicates an inconsistency of vision, and in the long run it's not good for the team.