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Amid College Chaos, MWC Flies Under the Radar

The Big 12 has 10 teams. The Big 10 has 12. The Pac-10 could soon change the game of college football forever if they establish a 16 team mega-conference. Clearly, the Big 12 is the big loser in this changing of the guard if Texas, Oklahoma and company do indeed join the Pac 10. The biggest winner may not be the Pac-10 however, but the Mountain West Conference.

With the Big 12 likely being extinct for the 2011 season, there is an opening for an annual spot at the Fiesta Bowl. The MWC is already making moves to seize it having annexed Boise State from the WAC. Next, they could be targeting Big 12 schools whose opportunities to abandon ship have passed them by. This group is headlined by Kansas and Missouri, although it also includes Kansas State, Iowa State, and Baylor. TCU is vehemently opposed to Baylor joining the MWC, and Iowa State and “mountain” should not be in the same sentence together. However, Kansas and Mizzou are very attractive candidates that can ensure the legitimacy of the conference long-term. Kansas is a basketball powerhouse and can add competition to New Mexico and BYU, who were each players in the March Madness Tournament. Missouri also is a top 50 team in both football and basketball most years, and adding the Jayhawks and Tigers would pour another rivalry into the conference as well as toughen up the schedules for Utah, TCU, BYU, and Boise State. If TCU or Boise State played head-to-head, won at Lawrence and again at Columbia, they could have been playing Alabama in a much tougher game a few months ago.

The MWC needed to add some quality competition, or else their big dogs (Utah, TCU, BYU) would have eventually moved on to somewhere else where they could challenge for a national championship. They have twelve teams now, four of which finished in the top 18 last season, which is better than the SEC, Big 12, Pac 10, ACC, and Big East. While they are not competitive top-to-bottom, expect them to continue adding teams like Fresno State or Hawaii 0r try to lure teams away from the Pac-16 that may be unhappy with the new format, say Arizona State.

A tougher conference leads to better recruits, even for UNLV and New Mexico, who may become much better because of the additions of the Broncos, Jayhawks, and Tigers. With as many and as good of contenders as you will find in the country with the exceptions of the SEC and maybe the Pac-16, I advise you not to sleep on the Mountain West Conference. In 2011, TCU, Utah, Boise State, and BYU may finally get their chance to prove their worth against the nation’s best teams.


June 12, 2010 Posted by | NFL Draft 2011 | Leave a comment

Could Revis Island Float Away?

Darrelle Revis has been listening to Rex Ryan raving about his superior abilities at the cornerback position for quite some time now. Ryan has gone so far as to say Revis is the best defensive player in the league. In this day and age, it’s only natural for Revis to want to get paid like a premier talent since the Jets obviously think so highly of him. He is, without a doubt, in the class of Nnamdi Asomugha, Troy Polamalu, Patrick Willis, DeMarcus Ware, and Jared Allen in terms of dominant defenders. His current contract is worth about $5 million per year (about half of the franchise tag amount for his position) while Asomugha’s deal is worth more than triple that.

The Jets seemed willing to renegotiate the deal, and Revis understood that the deal would not happen overnight and maybe not before the end of the season. However, the Jets made an offer right off the bat that was so insulting to Revis that he decided that his relationship with the organization was now fractured. It was reportedly worth around $9 million per year. Sources close to Revis are under the impression the corner was searching for between $16 and $20 million per year.

That “lowball” offer did not come from a difference of opinion regarding Revis’ talent level. The Jets cannot sell tickets in the new stadium they poured so much money into. They have over 9,000 unsold PSLs (Personal Seating Licenses) and have dramatically reduced the price on 18,000 seats so they can save themselves from the embarrassment of opening their new stadium in front of a half-full crowd.

If Revis were to bolt for another team, he would certainly not be the first. Laveraneus Coles and Chris Baker have left Gang Green because of insulting offers and broken promises. This is also an uncapped year, and while Woody Johnson is rich enough to own an NFL team, he does not have Dan Snyder or Jerry Jones cash on hand. In fact, the releases/trades of Alan Faneca, Thomas Jones, and Leon Washington were probably an effort to save money to resign Revis.

Oh, and Revis isn’t in his situation alone. D’Brickashaw Ferguson (pro bowl LT), Nick Mangold (pro bowl OC), and David Harris (young, starting ILB) are also in line for new deals. To keep them all around, it may take an annual average of $16 million for Revis, $12 million for Ferguson, $6 million for Mangold, and $7 million for Harris, which equates to approximately $200 million over five years. So while the Jets look good on paper, they could be in serious trouble down the road. Jets’ fans had better hope for Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson to blossom in Ryan’s scheme I guess.

June 12, 2010 Posted by | NFL News, Opinion | Leave a comment

2011…The Best Draft Class Ever (Defense)

You’ve seen all the supremely talented quarterbacks, receivers, and left tackles. One could make a case that the defense is an even bigger strength than the offense for this class. Teams sitting at 11th or 12th overall will be very excited at the level of talent they can get without paying top dollar. Let’s break it down position by position.

There are quite a few top-notch pass rushers in this class. Greg Romeus has prototypical size and was a terror off the edge last season for Pitt. He should be a top 15 pick, but will probably go even higher. Robert Quinn (North Carolina) had 19 TFLs and 11 sacks last year as a sophomore. He should be a top 10 pick and would fit in any scheme. He could soar to a top 3 spot if he has a big season. Adrian Clayborn of Iowa has a ton of talent and production, but has some character issues. When all is said and done, he may be the first end off the board or could slip all the way down to the latter part of round 1. Jeremy Beal (Oklahoma), Sam Acho (Texas), and Da’Quan Bowers (Clemson) all have a shot at round 1 if they produce next year. Von Miller of Texas A&M is really undersized, but has mad skills and may run close to a 4.5. He bested Russell Okung (6th overall) in their matchup last year. Akeem Ayers (UCLA), Jack Crawford (Penn State), and Ugo Chinasa (Oklahoma State) all know how to get after the quarterback. At least ten pass rushers will go in the top 2 rounds.

Everybody is raving about the Buckeyes’ Cameron Heyward and the Tar Heels’ Marvin Austin. Neither is as good as he is cracked up to be, but are legit top 15 talents. Heyward will be a 3-4 end and Austin will probably be a 4-3 tackle. Either could go in the top 5, and both will probably be top 10 picks. Marcell Dareus is a phenomenal player in Nick Saban’s 3-4 as an end, and will also wind up in the top 15. Miami’s Allen Bailey is finally playing at his talent level, and is also a solid first round pick. Nebraska’s Jared Crick can play in any scheme and will also be a first rounder if he can get it done without Suh by his side. The small school wonder this season is Hampton’s Kendrick Ellis, a 340 pound monster. He won’t get as much recognition as #1 nose tackle Jerrell Powe of Ole Miss, however. USC’s Jurrell Casey and LSU’s Drake Nevis are also good bets to go on day 2. Even with all the great offensive playmakers, seven of the top fifteen picks could be defensive linemen.

The 2011 linebacker crop doesn’t have any superstars but is very underrated by my estimations. Though undersized, Michigan State’s Greg Jones is a monster who can play the MIKE or WILL in a 4-3 or inside in a 3-4. He has 354 tackles in 3 seasons. That’s insane, especially if you consider that he led his team in tackles when he was a TRUE freshman. He should go in the 20-30 range on draft day. Oklahoma’s Travis Lewis (strictly 4-3 SAM or WILL) is extremely talented and had 108 tackles as a sophomore. He should go in the 20-40 range. There are about eight other linebackers who will go in rounds 2 or 3, but I will have my eye on Mark Herzlich, Boston College’s stud. He was the ACC defensive player of the year, then was diagnosed with cancer a few months later. He could be a top 50 pick if he does well. I also really like Miami’s Colin McCarthy and LSU’s Kelvin Sheppard.

With all those great, big receivers, you need people to cover them. This is where LSU Tiger Patrick Peterson comes in. He is 6-1, 210 and an absolute shutdown corner. He is the best prospect at his position to come along since maybe Champ Bailey in 1999, but I’m sure DeAngelo Hall would have something to say about that. Nebraska’s Prince Amukamara, who is also 6-1 and picked off 5 passes last season, is also deserving of a top 20 pick. The Texas duo of Aaron Williams and Curtis Brown will be gone by round 2, and North Carolina’s Kendric Burney is really good despite his height and reminds me of Alfonso Smith, formerly of Wake Forest, now with Denver. Ras-I Dowling (Virginia) and Rashad Carmichael (Virginia Tech) should also be second rounders. The small school sleeper is Davon House of New Mexico State, who has great height (6-0) and speed (4.4).

The ACC is putting out some really impressive defenders this season. The trend continues as the two top safeties are from that very conference. Clemson’s DeAndre McDaniel has 8 interceptions and has amazing physical tools, which will allow him to play strong or free safety. North Carolina’s Deunta Williams had 6 picks and was 1st team all ACC. Both should be picked in the 12-25 range on draft day and I expect each to impress. UCLA’s Rahim Moore had 10 interceptions as a sophomore, and should be an early 2nd round pick if he declares early. He also has a shot at the bottom of round 1. Alabama’s Mark Barron is very physical, but still picked off seven passes. He reminds me of Sean Jones and should be a 2nd round pick along with Florida’s Will Hill, Oklahoma’s Quinton Carter, and Iowa’s Tyler Sash.

The 2011 draft will be very good to those who stockpile picks in the top three rounds. I wouldn’t be surprised if some teams were able to squeeze five starters out of this draft.

May 31, 2010 Posted by | NFL Draft 2011 | Leave a comment

2011…The Best Draft Class Ever (Offense)

Everybody said 2010 was the deepest draft class to come along in a long while, but 2011 will be deeper. Not only that, it will have more top-notch talent at the top. In 2010, there were not ten guys worthy of a top ten selection. In 2011, there will be a ton of steals at nearly every position.

At quarterback, Jake Locker and Andrew Luck will be top 5 picks if their success continues. Locker would have been the #1 pick in the 2010 draft had he come out. Behind them are Ryan Mallett and Terrelle Pryor, two guys with unlimited upside. Like Jamarcus Russell, if they have a huge year, their stock could leapfrog the more traditional quarterback (Brady Quinn), or in this case, Andrew Luck. Four quarterbacks could go in the top 15, and Pat Devlin, another big armed Delaware signal caller (remind you of anybody?) could also go in the bottom half of round 1. Even beyond him, Florida State’s Christian Ponder, Iowa’s Ricky Stanzi, Wisconsin’s Scott Tolzein, and Texas A&M’s Jerrod Johnson could all go in round 2. The message is clear for the Alex Smiths and Ben Roethlisbergers of the world; perform or lose your job.

The running back position is much thinner than the 2010 crop, but it does boast Mark Ingram, who should be a top 10 selection. Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech) will be eligible, but he’ll only be a redshirt sophomore. If he does come out, he should be a mid to late first rounder. After him, guys like DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma), Evan Royster (Penn State), Noel Devine (West Virginia), and Jacquizz Rodgers (Oregon State) should be picked in the second or third round.

2011 should be the year of the wide receiver. AJ Green will push Jake Locker to be the #1 overall pick at 6-4 with 4.4 speed and great production. If Julio Jones can get his drops problem fixed, he will be a top 10 pick. Jonathan Baldwin, Pittsburgh’s 6-5 receiver, will also go in the top half of the first round if he keeps up his 1100 yard season from a year ago. He may end up being the best of the bunch. Michael Floyd (Notre Dame) and Terrance Toliver (LSU) also are probable first rounders. DeVier Posey (Ohio State), Chris Owusu (Stanford), Greg Little (UNC), and Austin Pettis (Boise State) are all deserving of second round grades. The deep sleeper is DeAndre Brown of Southern Mississippi, who is 6-6 and caught nine touchdowns coming off of a broken leg from the previous winter.

Tight end is a glaring weakness for this class, and besides Kyle Rudolph, who I compare to Greg Olsen (31st overall), there isn’t much to write home about. Lance Kendricks of Wisconsin appears to be the only other talent worthy of going in the top 50. Weslye Saunders of South Carolina is 280 pounds and runs a 4.7, but has character issues and Tennessee’s Luke Stocker is too small to be a traditional tight end.

There are tons of capable offensive tackles, most of which are capable of playing on the blind side. The cream of the crop is 6-8 Wisconsin Badger Gabe Carimi. He should be a top 10 pick. The athletic Anthony Costanzo needs to add muscle to his 6-7, 295 pound frame, but will be a top 20 pick anyways. The 6-9 Nate Solder is very raw but has amazing potential. A team may roll the dice on him in the 25-30 range. LSU’s Joseph Barksdale will get his crack at left tackle, and could be a first rounder if he does well in that role. BYU’s Matt Reynolds is a devastating right tackle/guard who is this year’s version of Mike Iupati. Lee Ziemba (Auburn), Nate Potter (Boise State), and Jason Pinkston (Pittsburgh) are all extremely athletic, but need to get stronger if they want to be picked in the top 40 or 50. Five tackles should go in the first round, but other than Carimi and Costanzo, it’s tough to tell which will and which won’t.

There are a handful of very solid interior offensive linemen. Kris O’Dowd (USC) and Steven Wisniewski (Penn State) could sneak into the bottom of the first round. Mike Pouncey (Florida) and John Moffitt (Wisconsin) are also two very good linemen who can play center or guard at the next level. They should be second rounders along with Rodney Hudson (Florida State) and Justin Boren (Ohio State). Things drop off considerably afterwards, however.

May 31, 2010 Posted by | NFL Draft 2011 | Leave a comment

On the Hot Seat

As I think about the upcoming NFL season, it strikes me how many teams are under tremendous pressure to perform and/or improve. If they fail to meet expectations, the biggest chunk of the blame, as you know, will go to the head coach in most cases. The pressure is only increased because guys like Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden are available. So, I have compiled a list of coaches who will be heavily scrutinized and second-guessed all season long. Will they respond well?

#5. Mike McCarthy (Packers)

McCarthy is entering his fifth season as head coach of the Packers, and has been fortunate to have an elite quarterback for every year of his tenure. That may be a curse in disguise actually. Having Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers significantly raises expectations, and deservedly so. How many teams with elite passers finish below .500 every year? In today’s NFL, that number is getting closer to zero every season. Competing in a quarterback starved division up until Favre’s arrival in Minnesota last year, McCarthy was only able to bring home the NFC North crown once. He was bested by Brett Favre, Gus Frerotte, and Rex Grossman TWICE. If the Packers miss the playoffs, Green Bay may be thinking they can do better at head coach.

#4. Tom Coughlin (Giants)

The G-men had a disappointing ’09 campaign, and while it was marred by injuries, is nonetheless inexcusable in the demanding environment of New York City. With a franchise quarterback, great talent at skill positions (Steve Smith, Brandon Jacobs, Hakeem Nicks), a solid offensive line, and an improved and healthy defense, another football-less January for Big Blue will not go over well. The brutal schedule (NFC East, NFC North, AFC South) will not be an excuse for losing eight or nine games. Even if they miss the playoffs at 9-7, Coughlin may not have the job security many will assume he has.

#3. John Fox (Panthers)

They say a head coach in the NFL is always on a one year contract, but this is literally true for John Fox. Many see 2010 as his lame duck year. Carolina seems to be ready to go after Bill Cowher after this season, and I believe John Fox will need to take the Panthers to the playoffs to convince the organization to keep him around. This will be a tough task if Atlanta and New Orleans turn out to be as good as I think they will. With an inexperienced player under center, it certainly is tough to envision Carolina finishing with more than eight wins. That means Fox is as good as gone.

#2. Jack Del Rio (Jaguars)

If you are entering your eighth year in the same position without ever having won your own division in the NFL, you know you’re on the hot seat. Point to Peyton Manning if you like, but the Jaguars have finished right behind the Colts only three out of seven times. In the last two seasons, Jacksonville has finished dead last in their division behind Kerry Collins, Vince Young, and Matt Schaub with a combined record of 12-20. Del Rio has won a grand total of one postseason game during his tenure. He has allowed a once feared defense to slip into mediocrity. Much of that is the GM’s fault, but Del Rio has also failed to develop a franchise quarterback and his teams can’t sell tickets. At the end of the day, that’s what really matters in a business, even an entertainment business. If the Jaguars can’t turn some heads, fill some seats, or score some touchdowns, Coach Del Rio will find himself unemployed in eight months.

#1. Lovie Smith (Bears)

You can tell by the way the Bears have been spending that the ownership has made it very clear that if improvements are not made, they’re cleaning house. Smith and GM Jerry Angelo will be the first to go. If the Jay Cutler experiment does not take a turn for the best and if Julius Peppers falls short of expectations, there will be many new faces in Chicago. Lovie has won two playoff games in six seasons and has gone 23-25 over the last three seasons. Unlike Del Rio, and Fox, Smith’s team has stars. Unlike Coughlin, Smith doesn’t have a Super Bowl ring to show for anything. It will also be really tough to finish ahead of the Packers or Vikings, and having to play each twice along with Dallas, the Giants, Eagles, Patriots, and Jets makes the odds of winning ten or even nine games pretty slim. If the Bears cannot go to the playoffs after trading the farm for Jay Cutler and spending the other one on Julius Peppers, I think you know who will be blamed for it.

May 31, 2010 Posted by | Opinion | Leave a comment

Creative Cleveland

In 2009 with Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson at the helm, the Browns’ offense was pathetic, to put it candidly. In 2010, they will have a package opponents will have to game plan for. They can’t throw the ball and traditional handoffs don’t generate a high enough percentage of explosive plays, so they need to get the ball into their playmakers’ hands by thinking out of the box.
Mike Holmgren and company are doing just that, and have practiced formations involving both Josh Cribbs and Seneca Wallace. Throw in Jerome Harrison and some quick receivers on the edge, and a defense all of a sudden is dealing with a helluva lot of speed and explosive ability.
They get an ‘A’ for effort, but I doubt the formation will do much damage. There is no deep threat to keep the defense honest and the offensive line has some major holes. The biggest reason the package will fail is that they won’t be able to call it. Miami and Dallas are the only real innovators when it comes to the wildcat, everybody else is just a copycat. Cleveland won’t throw anything at a defense that they can’t prepare for. Nobody on their coaching staff has experience calling a wildcat as a significant chunk of the offense, and it will show.
The Browncat, or whatever you want to call it, will look an awful lot like what the Eagles did with Michael Vick. Interesting formation and a ton of pre-snap hype followed by a simple draw play that nets two or three yards. Are the athletes (Cribbs, Wallace, Harrison) dangerous? Yes. Will they be stuffed when a defense drops eight or nine guys down in the box? 95% of the time.
The new package will not be creative enough to make an offense out of because unlike in Miami, Cleveland doesn’t have the brains calling the plays. I guess that’s why they pick in the top 10 so often.

May 31, 2010 Posted by | NFL News, Opinion | Leave a comment

Feel Entitled? Don’t.

The Associated Press is reporting that LenDale White is feeling “confused” and “broken-up” about his recent release from the Seahawks, at least according to his uncle. LenDale is clearly one of those players in the NFL who doesn’t “get it.” At the 2006 Scouting Combine, one general manager remarked that “the guy needed a bra, it was ridiculous. You come to the combine looking like that and you want to be a first-round pick? Come on. The guy had obviously been doing nothing,” upon seeing White weigh in shirtless. I’m willing to give him a pass on this, however, as countless players are immature enough to blow off their biggest job interview such as Andre Smith and Dez Bryant.

Six months later at Titans’ practice, White spat in the face of his own teammate, safety Donnie Nickey. In 2008, he received citations for destruction of property, disobedience to a lawful order/interference and resistance. Now, this. Give props to Pete Carroll for refusing to put up with LenDale’s unprofessional demeanor. It may teach White once and for all that playing in the NFL is a privilege, not a right.

Now that he has been cut, he feels “confused” and “broken-up”? Stop acting so innocent because everybody knows that you deserved what you got, including you. Shut up, drop some bra sizes, and wait by your phone in case Cincinnati needs to give yet another player a second chance.

May 30, 2010 Posted by | NFL News, Opinion | Leave a comment

San Fran’s Record May Be Misleading

Everybody expects the Saints and Cowboys to make the playoffs again, but who will be new to the playoff picture? In order, my guesses would be San Francisco, Atlanta, and Houston. San Francisco is the only one I’m very confident about, however. They are by default the best team in the division, for one. St. Louis still doesn’t have nearly enough pieces in place to make a run at the playoffs in 2010. Arizona simply lost too many valuable components (Warner, Boldin, Dansby, Rolle) and reports out of Cardinals camp regarding Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson are not good at all. At this point, Seattle appears to be the most serious threat to San Francisco, but even they have nothing to write home about apart from their linebacking corps.

San Francisco has an established runner, a bolstered offensive line, and two budding superstars in Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis. If Alex Smith can step up, this 49ers offense could be a force to be reckoned with. There are very few offenses with both potent passing and dominant run games. Minnesota, Atlanta, Dallas, and maybe Baltimore come to mind. All of those teams have a chance to do real damage in the playoffs. So does San Fran. When it comes to defense, this is a disciplined unit that ranked 4th in scoring last season. They have a phenomenal line with incredible power generated by Isaac Sopoaga and Aubrayo Franklin. They have veteran Justin Smith and promising youngsters Kentwan Balmer and Ricky Jean Francois. Behind them is all-pro Patrick Willis. Despite not having a top pass rusher, the 49ers can get to the quarterback by using a rotation of Manny Lawson, Parys Haralson, Ahmad Brooks, and Travis LaBoy. Their secondary is average at best, but it should not be too big of a liability.

Nobody compares to the 49ers in the NFC West, and I expect them to win at least 5 division games. They also get to play Kansas City, Denver, Oakland, Tampa, and Carolina. I see only two games (@ Chargers, @ Packers) where they are clearly overmatched. Therefore, if the team can stay relatively healthy, it’s entirely possible that they could win 13 games. I am almost sure they will win at least 10, and I would guess that 11 or 12 is the most realistic number. Don’t be surprised if the 49ers got a first round bye in the playoffs.

Can they win the Super Bowl? No. Alex Smith can win 11 games in a weak division, but he won’t be able to go through Atlanta, Green Bay, New Orleans, and San Diego in consecutive weeks. The team will only be tested five or six times over the course of the season, should easily make the playoffs, but are not built to win in January. If Tom Brady cannot agree to an extension with New England, for example, and is attracted to San Francisco, look out. Brady to Crabtree and Davis. Gore in the backfield. Then, San Fran can feel real optimism.

May 29, 2010 Posted by | Opinion | Leave a comment

Denver Broncos Outlook

  27. Denver Broncos (4-12)

Eric Mangini, Scott Pioli, and now Josh McDaniels. If the Patriots’ system was so brilliant, why aren’t the Jets, Chiefs, Broncos, and Browns among the league’s finest? I don’t know how many failures it will take to come out of New England for people to realize Bill Belichick is the only man there who can run a football team. Two of the three stooges are in the AFC West now, and they’re making Al Davis look like Ozzie Newsome. Josh McDaniels has taken a very promising young team and has dismantled it in an alarmingly short time.

The cute, new-look Broncos took the league by surprise, but their 2-8 finish was no fluke. If they find a good quarterback out of the mess they have made there, their offense should do alright. Knowshon Moreno, Eddie Royal, and Demaryius Thomas make for a nice trio of skill players there and I like the additions they have made to their offensive line. On defense, it’s a different story entirely. In the secondary, their starters will be 32, 32, 31, and 36 years old at the beginning of the season. Apart from DJ Williams and Elvis Dumervil, all their defenders are sub-par starters and/or well past their prime. The Broncos run a 3-4 defense, don’t have a nose tackle, and pass up Dan Williams not once, but twice. They only have one pass rusher and pass on both Jerry Hughes and Sergio Kindle not once, but twice. They have no real solutions in their front seven, and this is a team that ranked 26th in run defense last season. They are a 4 to 5 win team for the next two years at least, and I would be shocked if they picked outside of the top 10 again.

I think Tim Tebow and Demaryius Thomas will both be very solid players in this league, but not this year. It could take Tebow three years and Thomas two for them to hit their strides. Meanwhile, Denver will suffer the consequences of making their defense wait their turn and will, in all likelihood, have only a very average offense to show for it.

May 29, 2010 Posted by | Opinion | Leave a comment

Crayton Wants Out

Patrick Crayton has formally requested the Dallas Cowboys to be released. In the past 18 months, he has seen Roy Williams brought in to replace him, Miles Austin pass both of them on the depth chart, and now his team has spent its first round draft pick on a receiver, Dez Bryant. He is convinced that these moves will lead to his eventual release, and that he does not factor into the Cowboys’ plans at all. He claims that he will be released after training camp as long as his younger competition stays healthy.

Dallas would be making a huge mistake by cutting Crayton, if that is indeed in their plans. Financially, Crayton does not hurt to keep around as he will make only about $2 million in 2010. He just turned 31, but he is entering only his seventh season in the league. Crayton has proven he is the second best receiver on the team. Besides Jason Witten, no Cowboy has come close to the consistency Crayton has put up in terms of receiving. He has had 4 straight 500+ yard seasons, catching 162 balls over that span. Miles Austin has 99, Roy Williams has 138 (57 of which have come in his 25 games as a Cowboy), and Dez Bryant has 0 in that same time frame.

Dez Bryant, as talented as he may be, is a boom-or-bust luxury pick. Any contributions from him must be regarded as a bonus until he proves that he can bring his own cleats to practice at least. If he has a 40 catch season, by all means, cut the 32-year-old Crayton in 2011. Now, however, is not the time to ruin your ideal situation at receiver. Crayton is dependable, something you cannot say for any other Dallas receiver, including one year wonder Miles Austin. If Dallas needs to promote Crayton to the starting lineup for him to accept his role, so be it. He belongs there anyway.

What Crayton needs to understand is that his value to Dallas is not his 40 catches for 500 yards and 4 TDs but his role as an insurance policy. Miles Austin is due for a huge contract along the lines of 6 years, $55 million. If that cannot get done, Dallas will have to put all their eggs in the Roy Williams/Dez Bryant basket if they cut Crayton. If Bryant doesn’t pan out with Crayton gone, Romo has no depth behind Austin. As a free agent, I’m not sure how much of a market there is for a run of the mill possession receiver into his 30s. Both Crayton and the Cowboys need to find common ground, because they will both be much worse off without each other.

May 29, 2010 Posted by | NFL News, Opinion | Leave a comment