Cowboys' Ellis on the trading block?
Cowboys veteran outside linebacker Greg Ellis spent three offseasons (2006-08) grumbling about his role on the team, but owner Jerry Jones always calmed him down just before the season. Now it appears the Cowboys are finally willing to accommodate Ellis in his quest for a trade.
AOL Fanhouse's Calvin Watkins was the first to report that Ellis was being shopped. I've confirmed with a club source that Ellis was asked not to attend Thursday's organized team activities, which were closed to the media. The report indicates the Cowboys have reached out to the Patriots and Bengals as possible trade partners.
Ellis' former defensive coordinator, Mike Zimmer, is in that role in Cincinnati and he'd likely move the veteran back to defensive end, where he's more comfortable. After the 2005 season, Bill Parcells decided to move Ellis to outside linebacker. He resisted the move, but he ended up flourishing in the new role before suffering a torn Achilles' tendon.
Last offseason, the Cowboys attempted to sell Ellis on the role of pass-rushing specialist, suggesting that his career could be extended by sharing time with Anthony Spencer. Ellis managed eight sacks while playing a reduced role in the defense.
But even though he's been unhappy the past few years, Ellis was considered a valuable team leader. Two years ago, he showed up at Valley Ranch during the offseason to tutor Spencer -- despite knowing he would eventually be replaced by the then-rookie.
Cincinnati would be the best fit for Ellis, although Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland and head coach Tony Sparano have a lot of history with him. In reality, I don't think the Cowboys will be able to trade Ellis. He's on the books for a base salary of $4.15 million in '09, and that's a bit steep for a declining player who will soon turn 34. Former defensive MVP Jason Taylor will only make $1.5 million to play for the Dolphins in '09.
The Cowboys will probably end up releasing Ellis, and then he can wait for the best offer. Here's what AFC East blogger Tim Graham had to say on the topic. If Ellis is released, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Redskins or the Eagles make a play for him. Both teams are very familiar with Ellis, and they could use some help in the pass rush. Ellis looks like a spring chicken compared to Phillip Daniels and Renaldo Wynn.
One last thing: The nugget in the AOL story about Ellis not being invited to a meeting of team leaders is pretty telling. Despite all his grumbling, he's remained the consummate teammate. If he's not sitting in a meeting of so-called team leaders, there's a good chance he'll be playing elsewhere this season. That and the fact the Cowboys are shopping him.