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By Jonathan Bales

Top Five Reasons Cowboys Should Keep Flozell Adams

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Despite Flozell Adams' struggles in '09, there is currently no better option at left tackle.

It is no secret that we have been highly critical of Flozell Adams’ 2009 play. In our final Offensive Line Grades, we rated him as Dallas’ worst starting lineman last season, giving him a “C-” overall grade. Adams was solid in the run game, but gave up the second-most quarterback pressures in the NFL with 42. He also yielded more than twice as many sacks as any other Cowboys’ lineman, and let’s not forget his struggles with penalties (and costly ones at that).

Jerry Jones has been hesitant when addressing Adams’ future with the club, which could hinge on who the Cowboys are able to acquire in the draft. Despite our criticism of Adams, though, we believe he should remain a Cowboy in 2010. Why? The top five reasons are listed below.

1. There is currently not a better option at left tackle.

While it is nice to think a team can just release under-performing players, the move only makes sense if there is an adequate replacement waiting in the wings. As of now, no such replacement exists for the Cowboys. Even a first round selection is probably not NFL-ready enough to perform at an overall higher level than Flozell Adams will in 2010. Despite his struggles, Adams is still serviceable on the outside.

We imagine many of you see Doug Free as a capable replacement for Adams. See reason number two.

2. Doug Free was overrated in 2009 and did not play left tackle.

When we say Free was overrated, we do not mean in any manner that he played poorly last season. ‘Overrated’ is an expectation-laden label. Fans (and probably even coaches) were expecting a tremendous drop-off from Marc Colombo to Free, and when that did not happen, it was natural to believe Free was more productive than was actually the case.

According to our film study, however, Free was about an average, or perhaps slightly above-average right tackle. His smaller, athletic frame allowed him to be successful in pass protection. We graded him as the top tackle on the team in that department.

Although he was not a liability in run blocking, the 4.54 yards-per-carry average on runs during which he was a “point of attack” blocker was the worst of any tackle on the team. Free’s big play-to-negative play ratio was also the worst on the team (1.21 runs of 10+ yards for every negative run yielded). In comparison, Adams’ 1.45-to-1 big play-to-negative play ratio was the best among tackles.

Doug Free was better than expected at right tackle, but moving him to left tackle would leave the team with no viable backup.

Lastly, Free spent the entire regular season at right tackle. While we are fairly certain Free would not be as dominant at left tackle in the run game as Adams, we are also unsure how he would perform in pass protection on the left side. Teams generally line their best pass-rusher up on the right side of the defense. There is just too much uncertainty surrounding Free to be comfortable in having him already replace Adams, and right now he is probably better suited being a capable swing tackle.

3. Moving Doug Free to left tackle would create an even greater lack of depth at tackle.

We already have offensive tackle listed as the Cowboys’ top positional draft need. If the Cowboys release Adams, they will become dangerously thin at the position. Who would be the top backup? Pat McQuistan? Robert Brewster? A rookie? The latter is the most likely scenario, but with the frequency with which NFL players get injured, there is a solid chance that, should Adams be cut, the Cowboys would be forced to start a rookie at tackle at some point during the 2010 season.

4. With 2010 being an uncapped season, there is no financial reason to release Adams.

If cutting Adams would enhance the ability for the Cowboys to sign other players, our stance might be different. With no cap, though, assessing the “value” of players relative to their contracts becomes a moot point, at least for 2010. You never want to overpay a player, but if releasing a starter creates no competitive advantage, why do it?

Some may claim that Adams’ presence would block the progress of a younger player, but we do not think this is the case. We already explained why Doug Free is better suited as a backup for both left and right tackle, and any rookie the Cowboys could potentially draft would need time to develop anyway.

Even if the Cowboys drafted a tackle like Oklahoma's Trent Williams, would he really be a better immediate option than Adams?

5. Could Flozell Adams potentially move to guard?

This is highly speculative, but we believe Adams could potentially follow in the footsteps of Larry Allen and finish his career at guard. We actually discussed this in our latest Mailbag. As we explained there, transitioning to guard could help Adams utilize his power in the run game and hide his lack of quickness which leads to his struggles in pass protection.

A move in 2010 would be premature, as Kyle Kosier has been playing at a very high level as of late. His contract runs up at the end of this season, however, so making the switch after this season is not out of the question.

Our Solution

We propose the Cowboys keep Flozell Adams as the starting left tackle in 2010. In the meantime, they should do everything in their power to secure a left tackle of the future. This player, in all probability a rookie, could take a season to develop behind Adams. Keeping Adams on the roster would also allow Free to remain the primary backup at both tackle positions, a situation in which we believe he thrives.

After 2010, we believe Adams would be more productive at guard. Thus, his future would likely be linked to Kosier’s contract. If the Cowboys are willing and able to re-sign Kosier, Adams would likely get the boot, with either Free or a rookie from the 2010 class stepping into the starting rotation. Perhaps Flozell would even be willing to take a pay cut and play behind Kosier and Davis, although that is unlikely. Nonetheless, this scenario is the best way to ensure the Cowboys maintain proper depth at offensive tackle in 2010, while also securing future success at the position.

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4 Responses to Top Five Reasons Cowboys Should Keep Flozell Adams

  1. rodney says:

    How bout we keep adams start d.Free and find us a safety(darren sharper)

  2. jongb35 says:

    It would be tough to pay Flozell starting money to sit, but I suppose that is a possibility.

    As far as a safety, I don’t think Sharper is the answer. He made a lot of plays last year, but he is aging and probably over-performed in 2009. I’m sure the team would rather breed a young safety before signing Sharper. At least I hope so.

    Would you rather have Sharper or Earl Thomas?

  3. Pingback: Cowboys Mailbag: 3/10/10 « DallasCowboysTimes

  4. Pingback: Is Doug Free Suited to Play Left Tackle? « DallasCowboysTimes

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