Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Dallas Cowboys [Print without images]

Friday, May 28, 2010
Crayton as insurance isn't worth cost

By Tim MacMahon

The price of keeping Patrick Crayton as an insurance policy isn’t worth the potential payoff.

That has nothing to do with Crayton’s $2 million salary this season, which ultimately might be the determining factor in his departure from Dallas, although the Cowboys have no intention of granting Crayton's wish to be released right now.

Crayton’s current line of thinking isn’t irrational. He’s well aware that $2 million is a steep price to pay for a player without a role, which is why he’s afraid the Cowboys will release him after training camp, when it will be tough for him to catch on with another team.

Frankly, in an uncapped season, I couldn’t care less how much Jerry Jones pays his backups. Forget about the financial bottom line. The real cost of keeping Crayton for insurance is the risk of having him wreak havoc in the locker room.

That ought to outweigh the fact that keeping Crayton makes the Cowboys a better team on paper. Jerry Jones won’t admit it, but the Cowboys’ last two seasons provide a pretty conclusive case study that chemistry matters, that drama and distractions can destroy a team.

If Crayton’s around without a legitimate chance to compete for playing time, you better believe that there will be drama and distractions.

Not that Crayton is a bad guy. He’s just brutally honest, whether or not that’s in the best interests of the team.

That was the case a couple of years ago, when he was one of the receivers who ranted to Jason Garrett about Tony Romo’s habit of locking onto Jason Witten. That was the case last season, when Crayton called out the coaching staff for failing to inform him face-to-face that he was demoted.

It’s foolish to think that Crayton will keep his mouth shut while he watches all the reps he used to get go to Dez Bryant and Kevin Ogletree. It’s even sillier to believe that he’d be a good soldier while standing on the sideline during the regular season.

“You don’t want a progress stopper,” Crayton said while basically begging for his release Friday on ESPN 103.3’s Ben and Skin Show. “When it comes down to it, I would be a progress stopper.”

You especially don’t want a perturbed progress stopper.

Crayton’s frustration is certainly understandable. He’s confident in his ability but feels helpless here, knowing he’ll have minimal chance to contribute unless another receiver gets hurt. Plus, he’s already lost his starting job to a receiver who has done nothing to earn it other than signing a $9-million-per-year contract.

Oddly, Crayton went out of his way to stick up for the underachieving Roy Williams, making thinly veiled excuses for the starter’s poor production since arriving in a blockbuster deal from Detroit.

“I’ve never seen a receiver get yards by catching air,” Crayton said, a strange comment considering his production basically matched Williams’ last season despite far fewer balls thrown his way.

Crayton declined to specify who was to blame, but it’s pretty clear that he’s pointing the finger at Garrett and/or Romo. The Cowboys should consider that a sign of things to come, with Crayton’s comments getting stronger as his frustration continues to build.

Like Terrell Owens and Greg Ellis last year, Crayton is a proud, loud veteran the Cowboys would be better off without, even if it doesn’t look that way on paper.