NFC East: free agency
Looking forward to seeing you in the SportsNation chat room at noon ET today. We can talk free agency, T.O., Tra Thomas or whatever else is on your mind. Last week, we had more than 700 people waiting in line at the conclusion of the chat. So get there early.
|Tom Szczerbowski/US Presswire|
|Ray Lewis in Dallas? That transaction isn't likely to take place.|
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley and James Walker
Ray Lewis is a man who understands leverage.
That's why the free-agent linebacker spent part of the offseason trying to convince anyone who'd listen that he's always dreamed of playing for the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys would love to grant Lewis' wish, but they're busy trying to make DeMarcus Ware one of the richest men in football.
But try to suspend reality for a moment and imagine that Lewis really could end up with the Cowboys.
AFC North blogger James Walker and NFC Beast blogger Matt Mosley discussed this topic via e-mail earlier this week. In December, Mosley and Walker participated in what was hailed as the most successful blogger debate of the '08 season. Now, we've actually given this feature a name. Ladies and gentlemen, please put your hands together for the first installment of Double Coverage, which includes English subtitles.
Mosley: James, it's a pleasure to be visiting with you in such an informal setting. I'm always more comfortable when thousands (perhaps millions) of people are eavesdropping. Anyway, I don't think the Cowboys are one player away from "getting over the hump." Honestly, it sort of depends on what you think the "hump" is. If it's winning a playoff game for the first time in 12 years, then certainly Lewis would help in that process. I think the man has way too much pride to allow his team to play like dogs in a do-or-die game like the season-ender against the Eagles.
But if Jerry Jones has learned anything over the years (and that's debatable), it's that you don't pay age. Lewis may still have a couple good seasons left, but you never know how he might fit into another defense. He has so much history with the Ravens that he knows every nuance of the defense. Another veteran, Zach Thomas, had a really tough transition in Dallas. I don't think it's guaranteed that Lewis flourishes in Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme.
Walker: I'm with you, Matt. It depends on the definition of "getting over the hump." For Dallas, it's winning -- or at least getting to -- the Super Bowl. The addition of Lewis alone won't do that for the Cowboys. Without Lewis, Dallas' defense was No. 8 in the NFL last year. With Lewis, who is 33, the unit might move up a notch or two, but I doubt it translates into a Lombardi Trophy.
The Cowboys are paper champions not because of their linebackers, but because their most important player doesn't show up in important games. I hate to put so much blame on one player, but if I had a nickel for every big game Tony Romo has won, I'd have ... no nickels. Lewis cannot help in that respect.
Mosley: You're being a little harsh with Romo, but I'll let it slide this time. I'm wondering what your take was on linebacker DeMarcus Ware's recent comments about Lewis. Sounds like Lewis was lobbying him pretty hard.
Walker: Ware had no reason to lie about this, so I do believe there is truth to it. But what Lewis allegedly said is what a lot of free agents say at some point: They want to play in Dallas. I've heard Cincinnati Bengals receivers Chris Henry and Chad Ocho Cinco say the same thing this past year in the AFC North. I'm sure there are several others who have repeated the same sentiment. If Lewis speaks, obviously it makes bigger headlines, but talk is cheaper than money. Unless Lewis is willing to take a pay cut to play in Dallas, then putting the star on Lewis' helmet isn't really his dream scenario. Much of this decision will come down to the highest bidder and that team should be Baltimore, because Lewis means more to the Ravens than any other team.