Taylor: For Cowboys, talent needs to trump saving money


Taylor: For Cowboys, talent needs to trump saving money
Jean-Jacques Taylor

IRVING – In most other years, the moves Jerry Jones and his boys – Stephen Jones, Wade Phillips and Jason Garrett – made would make a lot more sense.

This, however, isn’t just any year.

This is the year the Super Bowl is played in Jerry’s pristine, billion- dollar stadium. This is the year his Cowboys are good enough to make their first Super Bowl appearance since the 1995 season.

So it’s hard to understand why Jerry, the antithesis of cheap since he bought the Cowboys, has decided to pinch pennies.

After all, there’s no salary cap this year. And through the work of Stephen Jones, the only contracts on the roster worth dumping belong to Roy Williams and Marion Barber. We’ve known forever that Jerry wasn’t getting rid of Williams or Barber, so it’s no surprise whatsoever that they remain on the roster.

If ever there was a season for Jerry to keep players based strictly on talent – not money – this would seem to be it.

Oh well.

Jerry has been shaving money from the Cowboys’ payroll since the off-season began.

High-profile, high-dollar players such as Flozell Adams and Ken Hamlin have been released. You could make an argument, if you wanted, to keep Adams, but not Hamlin.

In the last week, the Cowboys traded receiver Patrick Crayton , and released nose tackle Junior Siavii and safety Pat Watkins, a core special teams player. They also asked Sam Hurd, their best special teams player, to take a pay cut.

Hurd refused, as he should have, calling their bluff. The Cowboys, as they should have, kept him.

Individually, Crayton, Siavii or Watkins, isn’t the difference between winning and losing a Super Bowl for the Cowboys. Or even making the playoffs.

But losing them has a significant impact on the team because now the Cowboys are counting on players such as Dez Bryant, Kevin Ogletree, Josh Price, Sean Lissemore, Barry Church and Phil Costa to make a significant contribution to the team.

Let that marinate.

Crayton was a wonderful security blanket because he provided quality insurance in case of injuries to Miles Austin, Williams and Bryant, and he averaged 12.1 a punt return with two touchdowns.

Now, Ogletree is the guy you’ll be counting on.

Siavii wasn’t sexy – name a nose guard who is – but Phillips certainly liked the 31-year-old, and he was solid with 11 tackles last season. If Jay Ratliff goes down, then a pair of seventh-round picks will be anchoring the middle of the line.

Costa, an undrafted free agent, is one play away from taking over the second-most important position on the offensive line.

Does that make you feel comfortable? Nope.

And it shouldn’t.

None of those guys have ever done it in the NFL. Maybe, they will play so well we won’t even remember the names of the players they replaced when the season ends.

Maybe they won’t, which is the problem.

The Cowboys will argue that last year, they replaced Terrell Owens , Greg Ellis and Anthony Henry with Austin, Anthony Spencer and Mike Jenkins. Of course that’s not the whole story.

Spencer and Jenkins were first-round picks, and the Cowboys figured Williams, not Austin, would replace T.O. The Cowboys would also argue this year that they’re replacing backups with youth instead of starters, which is true.

Then they would argue that every dollar they save is another dollar they can spend on signing Austin this season, and taking care of Spencer, Jenkins and Doug Free in the next couple of years.

All of that makes sense, but this is not the year to get seduced by youth and potential. This is not a year for unproven backups because the rigors of a 16-game NFL season can wreak havoc on a roster.

This is the year for Dallas to try to win the Super Bowl. Jerry’s decisions have removed the Cowboys’ wriggle room.

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