NFL Nation: Ed Werder
No player, including Orakpo, wants the franchise tag, knowing it does not provide the long-term security he desires. If Orakpo gets hurt this season, he would damage his ability to land a big contract -- especially considering he's had two torn pectorals, the second of which limited him to two games in 2012.
But it's not as if the tag is great for the Redskins, either. All it does is ensure they keep their best pass-rusher for another season at a high price, one that could impact their ability to make other moves. They'll now pay $11.455 million to a player with a career-high single-season sack total of 11. However, he is consistent and has averaged 9.6 sacks in his four full seasons (the Redskins do drop him into coverage more than other pass-rushers). That makes him worth it -- at the right price. If his deal averages $11.5 million a year, it's tough to think that's the right price. For one year? They can absorb it, with approximately $30 million in cap space.
Still, this will make it tougher to fill all the holes that exist -- of which there are many. The Redskins need two starting safeties. They need to re-sign inside linebacker Perry Riley as well as replace retired inside linebacker London Fletcher. They need more depth at corner. At receiver. Along the offensive line. The draft can provide help, but without a first-round pick, it'll be more difficult.
But the Redskins also knew they couldn't solve every issue in one offseason. Nor should they try to; that will only lead to forced (read: bad) decisions. And if they had let Orakpo leave, it would've created another large hole that would've require extra resources to fill. Maybe not $11.455 million, but certainly a good chunk of change. It's possible, too, that the Redskins have a sense of how it will play out with potential free-agent replacements and know their choices will be more limited than desired.
They don't have a young backup ready to ascend to a starter's role. Perhaps in 2015 Brandon Jenkins could be that guy. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, who likes Jenkins, said at the end of the season he thought it could take Jenkins another year or so to be ready for a big role. It's not realistic now. They also haven't talked contract yet with another free-agent linebacker, Rob Jackson.
Why not the transition tag? Well, if you want Orakpo back, you're taking a chance someone might offer him a contract you don't want to match. Then Orakpo would leave without compensation. If you want him back, the franchise tag means he'll return. Yes, it costs more. But if the goal is to keep him here and keep negotiating a long-term deal, then don't mess around.
If the Redskins fail to build a good defense this year, I wouldn't blame it on Orakpo's contract. It's not as if free agency has been a panacea for the Redskins -- or any team -- in the past. It's taken them several years and a variety of reasons to reach this point of having to replace bad starters and having little depth. Sure, the Redskins could sign a few players for the $11.455 million they'd have to pay him this season. But that assumes all are productive. That's far from a guarantee, which anyone who has followed the Redskins since free agency began should know.
And keep in mind that even with the franchise, the process will not be over. The debate over Orakpo's worth will continue.
Werder reported that Xanders said he wouldn’t expect any trade talks -- if at all -- until the hour before the first round starts at 8 p.m. ET Thursday. At this point, it would be an upset if the Broncos trade the pick. Trades will be difficult this year because of all of the lockout limbo. The No. 2 pick hasn’t been traded since 2000, anyway.
If I had to guess at this moment, I’d expect Denver to keep the pick.
As Werder also reported, the Cowboys have been preparing as if Haynesworth's going to see significant time. Redskins coach Mike Shanahan scolded starting tight end Chris Cooley for telling a radio station that Haynesworth had been mostly working with the scout-team defense. In related news, Cowboys left guard Montrae Holland told me Friday that the offense has been watching film of Jim Haslett's Rams defenses in order to prepare for Sunday's game.
But Holland said the Cowboys didn't bother watching any film of Haslett's [United Football League] Florida Tuskers from last season.
Phillips was in the final season of his contract, but the Cowboys have a team option for 2010 that will pay the coach roughly $3 million. There had been some talk that Jones would offer Phillips a two-year extension, but I think there's a decent chance he simply gives him a nice raise for next season. He wouldn't admit it, but I sort of think Jones enjoyed holding off on the contract this season as a motivating ploy. He knew that Phillips wasn't going to challenge him on the idea. But make no mistake. The last thing Jones wanted to do was make a coaching change.
If the Cowboys had faded in December and missed the playoffs, I'm not sure Jones would've had any other choice. But with the way Dallas played leading up to the divisional playoff game, there's enough evidence for Jones to believe that Phillips will eventually get his team over the hump. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo definitely had his coach's back Monday.
"His record speaks for itself," Romo said outside the Cowboys' locker room Monday. "He's done a great job, kept the team together through a lot of tough times this year. He's done a fantastic job as coach of the Cowboys."
Romo believes that it's important to keep the current administration intact. The Cowboys have already replaced defensive line coach Todd Grantham with former Dolphins defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni. But I don't expect any other significant changes on the staff. If Jason Garrett was in the running for any head-coaching jobs, I'm afraid that Sunday's 34-3 loss may have ended that thought.
As the week unfolds, we'll talk a lot about where the Cowboys go from here. It was certainly a successful season in many respects, but obviously things ended on a sour note. A special thanks to my colleagues, Calvin Watkins and Tim MacMahon, for contributing to the Werder report.
"Well, I hope we can [overcome it]," Favre said. "From the outside looking in, if you had to look at both teams, us and the Cowboys, you’d go, OK, aside from the fact that the Cowboys are playing at the Vikings, who is the hottest team right now? Well, I mean, no duh. The Cowboys are. In all phases, they are playing great. Their defense is playing outstanding. They are peaking at the right time, if you will.
"The last game for us was a good game, fortunately. I was asked the question after that game, 'Does this make you feel better?' It definitely beats the alternative. It did give us a little confidence. We do, or will have to play like we did in that game, or like we had played throughout the season up until those last few games. We have to play that way in order to win this game.
"I mean, this is the playoffs. Rarely can you play badly or average and win. So, we are aware of how we need to play. In the fact that we are playing maybe, in my opinion, the hottest team in football right now. Just from a confidence level, from just watching them play, they are making plays, they know they are making plays, they are confident. ...
"You can see it, you can feel it. They just had that air about them that they couldn’t be beaten. So Dallas is playing like that right now. They are feeling it. We needed a game like that [blowout over the Giants]. Would we have loved to have won those other games and go in without a care in the world? Sure. But it was a wake-up call and hopefully we answered."
It sounds like Favre has a bright future in a TV studio when he retires -- eight or nine years from now. The good news for Cowboys fans is that Favre compared Dallas to the '07 Giants. He thinks they're "peaking" at the right time and they remind him of the team that beat his Packers in the NFC title game.
I asked Favre if he thought about the fact that this could be the final playoff game (or games) of his career and he had a quick response.
"I'm well aware of the opportunity [to win in the playoffs]," said Favre. "It's why I came back. To be sitting here playing in this game ... I'm not surprised. I have no idea what will happen Sunday. This very well could be my last opportunity in the playoffs, whether I play five more years or not."
So there you have it. Favre's leaving the door open to play until he's at least 45!
DENVER – The Denver Broncos handled one thing right after their Week 7 bye and it came in the moments after their tumultuous season ended Sunday.
They were crushed. And they should be.
There is no doubt Denver – which played Sunday without benched Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Marshall and tight end Tony Scheffler -- is feeling the sting of its colossal collapse. Many players had tears in their eyes. Many said the nosedive cannot be tolerated.
After getting help in the AFC playoff hunt in the early games Sunday, Denver could keep its playoff hopes alive with a win over the 3-12 Kansas City Chiefs, who hadn’t won in over a month. But the Chiefs were the team that played with urgency. Kansas City put together its best game of the season and punched the host Broncos in the mouth, 44-24. Spectacular second-year running back Jamaal Charles ran for a franchise high 259 yards on 25 carries and linebacker Derrick Johnson tied an NFL record with two interceptions returned for touchdowns.
“It was embarrassing,” Denver defensive end Vonnie Holliday said. “Embarrassing.”
It was a fitting end into a terrible 10-week stretch for Denver.
Denver started the season 6-0. But it lost eight of its final 10 games to finish 8-8. It is the third team since the merger to not make the playoffs after starting 6-0. Denver had a 3.5 game lead over San Diego after Week 6. It is the first team in NFL history to not make the playoffs after having a 3.5-game lead. Had Denver beaten Oakland and Kansas City (they combined for nine wins this season) in its final two home games, it would have gone to the playoffs for first time in four seasons. Instead, the Broncos will have to spend the winter fretting over the lost opportunity.
That isn’t the only issue in Denver, though. The season ended with serious upheaval.
On New Year’s Day, Denver rookie coach Josh McDaniels dropped a major bombshell by indicating that Marshall and Scheffler would be benched against the Chiefs for accountability reasons. ESPN’s Ed Werder reported Sunday that Marshall was benched for being late to a therapy session Thursday to treat a hamstring injury the team thought he was exaggerating. Marshall had 101 catches in 15 games and was named to his second Pro Bowl team last week. Werder reported Scheffler was benched for openly saying he couldn’t wait for the team’s season to end. Neither Marshall nor Scheffler was seen with the team Sunday.
After the game, McDaniels didn’t address the issue.
Some players did, though. Safety Renaldo Hill said “we have to back the coach” on the decision. Team leader Brian Dawkins said Marshall and Scheffler’s absence in the biggest game of the season had no factor on the outcome of the game. Holliday did say this: “We still are an immature team.”
The season ends in Denver with the same discord in which the McDaniels’ era began. Denver dominated NFL headlines when McDaniels feuded with, and then traded, Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler after McDaniels flirted with the idea trading Cutler for Matt Cassel, who starred for McDaniels in New England last season. Ironically, Cassel contributed in knocking Denver out of the playoffs Sunday.
Perhaps this offseason will not be as dramatic as last year in Denver, but expect McDaniels to continue to try to mold the roster to his liking. There is likely little chance Marshall or Scheffler returns. It would be very difficult for either player to be brought back under these circumstances. Both players likely will be restricted free agents.
This is the third time in the past four seasons that Denver lost on the final day of the season with their playoff hopes still alive. Last year, Mike Shanahan was fired after 14 seasons when Denver lost a three-game lead in the final three weeks of the season.
McDaniels made a very pointed comment Sunday. He said he has to find the “common denominator” in the recent collapses.
That clearly means more members of the old regime could be on their way out. Thus, it wouldn’t be a surprise if some of remaining staff members from Shanahan’s regime or some of holdover players from Shanahan’s days are not brought back.
“I’m not going to be dramatic about it,” McDaniels said. “I wish we were playing next week, but we didn’t play well enough to deserve that opportunity. There’s no question about that. The last four weeks we didn’t earn the right to continue to play in this league into the playoffs. We’ve got a lot of work to do and there’s definitely going to have to be some things that change. We can’t just go back and do the same thing.”
After the 10-week collapse and the player-coach discord, Denver can’t go into this offseason believing major progress has been made. This is not a good time for the organization.
Yes, there are many positive attributes about McDaniels, 33. He has the makings of building a good program, but the way this season ended cannot be overlooked.
In the end, there isn’t much different from the way this season concluded than last, other than the fact that the head coach is coming back. There is still plenty of work to be done in Denver.
Frequent Beast contributor Ed Werder, who also does work for the TV side, caught up with Switzer on Monday evening and turned around an entertaining column for ESPNDallas.com. Of course, anything out of Switzer's mouth is pretty entertaining -- and often profane. Switzer told Werder that he absolutely would not have gone for it on fourth-and-2 if he'd been in Belichick's shoes.
"It's totally different,'' Switzer said. "We had fourth-and-3-inches. If it had been fourth-and-2, we'd have kicked the SOB."During the 1995 season, the Cowboys and Eagles were tied at 17 when Switzer elected to go for it on fourth-and-1 from his own 29-yard line. Troy Aikman handed the ball to Emmitt Smith, who was stuffed at the line of scrimmage. The Eagles went on to win the game and Switzer, like Belichick, faced a tremendous amount of criticism. Fortunately for Belichick, he has a few more NFL skins on the wall than Switzer had at the time.
"I know what he's thinking,'' Switzer told Werder. "Belichick is thinking, 'If we make this play right here, we win the ballgame.'
"He didn't want to punt to Peyton Manning. In pro football, two minutes is an eternity, and he's seen the two best quarterbacks in football go up and down the field on each other. When that happens, you're thinking, 'My defense can't stop them, but I know how I can win the game with one play.'"Switzer actually had a chance to reconsider his decision to go for it against the Eagles. Smith was stopped on fouth-and-1, but the officials ruled that the two-minute warning occurred before the snap. Given the opportunity to change his mind, the Cowboys ran the same play with Smith -- with the same result.
"Everybody thought when you don't get it the first time, you've got to punt it,'' Switzer said. "But what was I going to do at that point, change my mind and basically say, 'I don't believe in you guys?'
"Hell, you're committed at that point.''In a lot of ways, that play defined Switzer's time with the Cowboys. And it's probably not completely fair -- especially since that '95 team went on to win a Super Bowl. Belichick has enough Super Bowl credibility so that a regular-season loss to the Colts won't damage his legacy.
Strong work by Mr. Werder -- as always.
Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
Marshall's agent, Kennard McGuire, told ESPN's Michael Smith: "There was a meeting with Mr. (Pat) Bowlen and Brandon did ask to be traded. He was told by ownership that the team would do everything in its power to accommodate those wishes. We do feel that a change of scenery is not only important but necessary."
Marshall backed up McGuire's claim on his website.
Denver coach Josh McDaniels countered by telling ESPN's Ed Werder this: "We met after Pat's meeting with Brandon Marshall, and we've decided that we will continue to have a dialogue with Brandon and his representative, but we are looking forward to having Brandon at training camp,"
Buckle in, it doesn't seem like these two sides are on the same page. Marshall wants out. The Broncos don't want to trade him. As long as Denver doesn't want to trade Marshall, he won't be traded. The Broncos wanted to trade Jay Cutler and they did.
They want Marshall to be part of the team in 2009. And unless they change their mind, Marshall will be in Denver in 2009. If not, he'll hold out and not get paid more than $2 million. That is unlikely to happen.
Now we know Marshall wants out. But we also now Denver wants to keep him. The Broncos have all the leverage here, don't expect Marshall to get his wish.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
Attempting to understand/psychoanalyze Terrell Owens has occupied quite a bit of my time since he moved to Dallas in 2006. Our relationship has had its peaks (brief eye contact during a one-on-one interview in training camp) and valleys (when he repeatedly called me a "chump" while his sidekick and former NBA guard Damon Jones looked on).
|Doug Pensinger/Getty Images|
|Terrell Owens wore out his welcome in Dallas after three seasons.|
For obvious reasons, he was an entertaining player to cover over the past three seasons. He could be remarkably charming one minute, surly the next. I've been with him in a couple of social settings over the years, and he came across as extremely gracious. But a week later, he might walk past me in the locker room and mutter an expletive in my direction with no explanation. (Guess that's his version of the comments section).
I thought his accidental overdose during the 2006 season was some sort of cry for help. Owens called it "an allergic reaction." His publicist at the time, the unforgettable Kim Etheredge, cleared up the confusion surrounding the event by suggesting that Owens had "25 million reasons" to continue on with his life. She and T.O.'s diminutive live-in trainer Buddy Primm were soon fired, although Primm would soon make a valiant comeback.
It's too simple to just call T.O. a rat and move on down the road. I've tried that approach, but I think he actually has some admirable qualities. Besides being a future Hall of Famer, he's done a lot of things for his teammates that never get mentioned. When a teammate was released or had a death in the family, the first text message he received was often from T.O.
His best friends on the team have always been the guys at the bottom of the roster. When he was out with an injury during the 2006 training camp, he stayed after practice for an hour each day and worked with free agent rookie wide receiver Sam Hurd. The two became very close and T.O. had similar relationships with guys on the practice squad.
It was always easier to be friends with those players because he didn't feel threatened by them. He and quarterback Tony Romo mugged for cameras together but they rarely spent any time together off the field. He obviously painted tight end Jason Witten as the snitch in Ed Werder's infamous report that suggested Romo and Witten were diagramming plays behind T.O.'s back.
|Cowboys WR Terrell Owens hauls in a tremendous 33-yard grab from Tony Romo.|
Like a lot of us, T.O. has major trust issues. It's almost like he starts a relationship from the basis that it will end poorly -- and you can understand why that might be the case. Over the years, writers have traveled to his hometown to write about how his strict upbringing and lack of a father figure may have contributed to his problems in the NFL. And it's fair to say that all of us have been shaped by our childhood experiences.
But at some point, most of us are asked to act like adults. We may have issues with authority (hear, hear), but to stay employed we have to eventually give in at times. I wasn't in San Francisco or Philly, but in Dallas, T.O. always knew he held the trump card because of his close relationship with Jerry Jones.
He trusted the man completely, in part, because he gave him everything he wanted. When he went behind offensive coordinator Jason Garrett's back, he knew there wouldn't be any consequences. But Jones didn't become a billionaire by ignoring the bottom line.
As much as he loved the headlines that T.O. brought, Jones knew that the player had, in some ways, become bigger than the organization. He'll continue to shoot down the toxic locker-room theory forever, but Jones finally knew that T.O. had to go.
T.O.'s blind devotion to Jones may have caused him to overplay his hand. If forced to choose between a franchise quarterback and an aging wide receiver, you have to make the easy choice. That's what Jones did Wednesday night.
He finally admitted defeat on T.O. I'm sure someone will take a chance on T.O. because of his immense talent.
But things will end badly -- as they always do with this guy.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones turned to the one voice that's allowed to speak for the organization Saturday: his own. Earlier that afternoon, he'd told local reporters they'd wasted their (newspapers') money by attending the NFL combine in Indianapolis and suggested he "might" be able to visit with them Monday.
But the most accessible owner-general manager in the league couldn't help himself Saturday night. It seems that he needed to get something off his chest. Last month, he ordered everyone at Valley Ranch to stand down when it came to "independently" speaking to the media. And on Saturday, he decided to take dead aim at some of the "misinformation" that leaked last month -- namely an Ed Werder report that cited two sources saying that Stephen Jones was preparing to recommend to his father that wide receiver Terrell Owens be released.
"That Stephen and I were debating about Terrell, that's just misinformation," Jones said regarding his son, the club's vice president. "That's just not accurate. I don't know where that comes from. That's just total misinformation. And the thing is that nobody would know that except for me or Stephen, and I know Stephen didn't tell you. So whoever else said that happened is just wrong. It's just speculation, as far as us debating."
In fairness to Werder, he never reported that father and son were debating the topic. He had sources telling him that Stephen Jones was preparing to lobby for T.O.'s departure. Who knows? Maybe he never got around to having that conversation -- especially after it was reported that he was leaning in that direction. And since Jerry Jones is the only one in the organization allowed to speak, we won't be hearing from Stephen on this topic.
The elder Jones also defended his decision to place a gag order on head coach Wade Phillips, whose dignity was left flapping in the wind last week.
"It's well known that relative to our personnel decisions, who makes that decision," Jones said. "All I'm trying to say is basically that's where you need to go to see where the status of that decision is. That's where you need to go. That's what we're trying to avoid."
I guess you lose any sense of perspective when the word "billionaire" is attached to your name. What Jones can't see is that he's undermined Phillips and his coaching staff at every turn. Tom Landry, Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells all brought an aura to one of the most revered coaching jobs in professional sports. In a relatively short period of time, Jones has made the position almost completely irrelevant.
"Where I'm coming from here, I just want to make sure you're not getting bits and pieces of information," Jones told reporters in Indy. "That's not doing anybody any good and you're not making accurate reports."
As Phillips once explained after being grilled over a Pacman Jones incident, "Jerry will be out here with the facts in a minute."
Words to live by.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' reputation for being a renegade helped him forge a friendship with Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis in the early '90s. And based on Jones' recent moves, it's becoming difficult to tell the men apart.
|Wesley Hitt/Getty Images|
|Jerry Jones was unable to get Dan Reeves to stay with the organization.|
Since taking over the Cowboys in 1989, Jones has emulated his GM predecessor, Tex Schramm, when it comes to selling his product. He's one of the most accessible owners in professional sports, in part because he loves the attention. But since the Cowboys' season ended with an embarrassing 44-6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, Jones has basically gone underground.
Just before disappearing from sight, he made the worst sales pitch of his illustrious career in a call for continuity that centered on head coach Wade Phillips suddenly changing his personality after 30 years of back-slapping. For the first time anyone can remember, Jones informed reporters at the Senior Bowl that several topics were off limits, including anything that seemed remotely pertinent.
Privately, he has conducted a witch hunt to identify the anonymous sources who've had ESPN's Ed Werder on speed dial this season. When I reached a longtime Cowboys employee by phone two weeks ago, he spoke in hushed tones as he explained that an internal e-mail had warned people in the building not to speak to the media unless they have clearance from the club's public relations office. That's in stark contrast to the beginning of the Phillips era, when Valley Ranch basically turned into a public park.
Phillips may have been the first head coach in club history to decline interviews at the Senior Bowl because "[P.R. director] Rich [Dalrymple] told me not to talk."
The latest gaffe involves a beloved member of the Cowboys family, Dan Reeves. At his end-of-the-season news conference, Phillips indicated that he would consult with former associates about how to clean up the mess at Valley Ranch. Reeves played and coached under Tom Landry before head-coaching stops with the Broncos, Giants and Falcons. Phillips had replaced him as head coach in Denver and Atlanta, but the two men had remained friends over the years.
|Rise and fall of the 2008 Cowboys.|
As I understand it, Phillips recommended that Reeves be brought in to serve as a consultant. Jones already had fired Phillips' close friend and defensive coordinator Brian Stewart, and Phillips thought Reeves' expertise on offense would allow him to devote most of his time to the defense. It seemed like such a good fit that Reeves moved into an office at Valley Ranch on Monday before details of his contract had been finalized.
A local TV station first broke the news of Reeves' presence at Valley Ranch on Tuesday evening. The next morning, Werder reported that Reeves would report directly to Jones. And by late Wednesday afternoon, Reeves was out of a job. (Cue the "Benny Hill" music.)
"I thought the thing was done, and we finally agreed on what the title was going to be," Reeves told ESPN late Wednesday. "I didn't want to have a coaching title and not have authority coaching-wise. I wanted to work with him [Jones] and Wade and help in any way that I possibly could. We finally agreed the coaching thing wouldn't be in there, but then the contract changed and there were some things in there I couldn't see being in there, and they were important to him. He made a lot of concessions, but this was something that was important to him, and I just didn't feel like I could live with it. So it didn't make sense for us to go forward."
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
We're still waiting for an official press release from the Dallas Cowboys, but we've confirmed that former NFL head coach Dan Reeves has begun his work as a consultant for the club. The organization has been in lockdown mode for the past three weeks.
According to a source, an internal e-mail was sent out reminding employees that they are not to talk to reporters unless it is cleared through director of public relations Rich Dalrymple. In the past, Cowboys head coaches have visited with the local media during the Senior Bowl, but Wade Phillips told reporters in Mobile that Dalrymple had instructed him not to speak.
Moments ago, I called Reeves' new extension at Valley Ranch. Apparently he's moved into former defensive coordinator Brian Stewart's office because that's whose voice I heard on the message. Reeves will report directly to owner Jerry Jones, according to ESPN's Ed Werder.
And for those of you with short memories, Reeves was replaced by Phillips as head coach in both Denver (1992) and Atlanta (2003). Phillips was the interim coach for the Falcons when Reeves asked to be released with a 3-10 record. I'm sure Phillips is thrilled to have a former head coach with a lot more skins on the wall strolling around the complex.
Which team does this organization remind you of right now? Do the Oakland Raiders ring a bell?
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
The Dallas Cowboys' biggest priority this offseason will be to improve locker room chemistry, and that will lead to serious discussions about Terrell Owens' future, according to team and league sources who spoke with ESPN's Ed Werder. Owner Jerry Jones has pointed to the negative impact that Owens' release would have on the club's salary cap as a major reason for keeping the receiver around. But it sounds like others at Valley Ranch, namely his son Stephen, are trying to convince Jones that releasing T.O. would be worth the financial risks.
"I think we all know that chemistry is the problem with this team more than the schemes or anything else," a Cowboys source told Werder. "Are we going to continue to allow talent to outweigh everything else in the decisions we make with players and putting the roster together? We're like the Redskins used to be when they signed every player they wanted. There's more to it than talent. It has to be more about the team. The big one [Owens] didn't get discussed yet, but I'm sure it will and real hard."
Jones has maintained over the years that team chemistry is overrated. But according to Werder's sources, Stephen Jones is trying to convince his father to part ways with the controversial wide receiver. We've been saying this is the best course of action for a while, but it's interesting that it's now coming from Valley Ranch voices.
The club is apparently worried about the effect that T.O. is having on players such as Roy Williams, Patrick Crayton and Marion Barber. T.O. certainly has leadership qualities. It's just hard to tell where he's leading everyone. From reading Werder's report, it seems like the Cowboys are placing more blame on team chemistry than offensive coordinator Jason Garrett's schemes. Lots of interesting nuggets in Werder's exclusive.
I'm starting to think that T.O.'s probably gone. I don't think the salary-cap ramifications that Jones keeps bringing up are as dire as he's making them out to be.
Digest all this and then let me know what you think in the comments section. I'll dive in there later tonight.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
On the same afternoon that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell trumped Jerry Jones' speedy internal investigation of last week's Pacman Jones incident with an indefinite suspension, the Cowboys' owner engineered a dramatic trade for Detroit Lions wide receiver Roy Williams. ESPN's Ed Werder first reported that the deal was close to being consummated, and the Cowboys have now confirmed it.
It sounds as if Jones fought hard to keep his first-round pick, but in a rare "victory" for Lions management, they finally talked him out of it. The Cowboys gave up a first-round draft choice, a third and a sixth in exchange for Williams and the Lions' seventh-round pick in 2009.
At a time when the Cowboys appeared to be imploding with the loss of starting quarterback Tony Romo for three games and the suspension of Pacman, the trade for Williams might provide the spark they need to regroup as a team.
Jerry Jones spent the entire offseason coveting veteran wide receivers such as Chad Johnson, Anquan Boldin and Williams. But two weeks ago, he denied that he was in the market for a wide receiver. Would this deal have been done if Romo and rookie running back Felix Jones hadn't been hurt against the Cardinals? I think it would have, because Jones was sick of watching T.O. get dominated by no-name cornerbacks.
Jones hated to give up the first-rounder because he remembers how the trade for Joey Galloway blew up in his face in the late '90s. But that was a move made in a desperate attempt to win one more Super Bowl with Troy Aikman. Williams will now have a chance to grow old (as a football player) with Romo, Jason Witten, Marion Barber and Felix Jones.
Of course, the trade begs the obvious question, "How will T.O. react?" I'm sure he'll say all the right things Wednesday, but we'll see what he thinks when Williams has seven or eight catches and he has three.
The Cowboys have tried to cover up T.O.'s ineptitude the past three weeks by talking about how teams have double- and triple-teamed him. But the truth of the matter is that T.O. can't get off the line of scrimmage against cornerbacking greats such as "Neon" Leon Hall and Rod Hood.
T.O. could definitely benefit from Williams' presence, but there's a chance he will feel threatened by his arrival. Williams is the big, fast receiver that Jones has coveted. Like the player the Cowboys just faced, Larry Fitzgerald, Williams is capable of making huge plays downfield. T.O. does a superb job of running after the catch, but he has never been great at competing for balls in tight spaces. And if that sounds wrong to you, just ask any NFC scout for his opinion.
Williams is the happiest man in Michigan right now. He grew up in West Texas (he played at Odessa Permian High, the inspiration for "Friday Night Lights"), and he has been open about his desire to play for the Cowboys. He had 82 catches for 1,310 yards in 2006 and made his first Pro Bowl appearance, but his career has been in a steady decline since then.
In 2007, he averaged 5.3 receptions per game and 69.8 yards. This season, he has averaged 3.4 receptions and 46.4 yards per game. He'll immediately replace Patrick Crayton as the team's second receiver.
Who's the happiest man at Valley Ranch today? That would be Tony Romo. Adding another star receiver may have a healing effect on his broken pinkie finger.
By the way, Brad Johnson also has to be excited. He doesn't have much of an arm left, but he can still launch it high enough to let Williams make a play on the ball. It wouldn't surprise me if the Cowboys activated Williams for Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams.
This entire trade is a classic Jerry Jones misdirection play. The news cycle for Wednesday would've been all about Pacman, but now Jerry Jones has caused a diversion. Werder called a few minutes ago to remind me about a story from the early '90s. Former Cowboys wide receiver Jimmy Smith had just won a grievance against the club, and Jerry Jones had been very smug about how he never "lost in court."
On the day before the embarrassing story was set to run in the Dallas Morning News, Jones decided to announce a monster extension for Aikman. Do you think that was a coincidence? Yeah, me neither.
I'm not saying the Cowboys are headed to a Super Bowl, but they have a much better chance this afternoon than they did this morning. T.O.'s recent decline only reinforced Jones' desire to bring in another quality wide receiver. He has learned the hard way that you have to wait two or three years for a young receiver to develop. On Tuesday, he took a shortcut.
He should send flowers to the Ford family for finally firing Lions general manager Matt Millen. Or given the state of the economy, maybe purchasing some stock would be the most appropriate display of gratitude.
And if you're wondering why your team isn't receiving more coverage today, tell your owner to have a player suspended and then trade for a Pro Bowl wide receiver on the same afternoon. We go wherever the news is. And today, it's all coming out of Valley Ranch.
CLEVELAND -- From high atop Browns Stadium, I'm watching Cowboys cornerback Terence Newman (groin) do some light jogging. We don't have the inactives list yet, but I'd be shocked if Newman played. Owner Jerry Jones has already said that Adam Jones will be the starter.
In other news, I just watched defensive tackle Tank Johnson jog over to the sideline and place a bear hug and a kiss on ESPN's Ed Werder. Until that point, Ed had served diligently as a senior correspondent for this blog.
Wide receiver Terrell Owens warmed up for 30 minutes and is now headed back to the locker room. OK, now I'm watching Newman play catch with safety Pat Watkins in the end zone. No way he's playing. But he did just throw a 45-yard pass on a rope to Watkins.
Not many fans have arrived in the stadium yet. It's a gorgeous day here, so I'm sure they're out enjoying the weather. Back with inactives in a moment.
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