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10 Dallas Cowboys Who Should Not Return in 2011

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Jonathan Bales

It’s no secret the Cowboys need to upgrade their roster, but there is some dispute over which players should be shown the door.  In my opinion, the ‘Boys need to allow younger players a chance to prove themselves while also ridding themselves of certain veterans with limited future potential.

10.  WR Kevin Ogletree

After a promising initial season as an undrafted rookie, Ogletree regressed in 2010.  He displayed a bit of a “diva-like” attitude despite entering the season with just seven career receptions.  His ceiling on the Cowboys for the foreseeable future is no greater than the No. 3 receiver, but his special teams play doesn’t match his projected role.  With limited offensive upside, the Cowboys might be smart to find someone with potential and a willingness to play special teams.

9.  LB Leon Williams

Duh.

8.  DE Marcus Spears

Spears’ departure seems virtually certain at this point, as his run-stuffing ability (he secured a tackle on 6.1 percent of snaps–by far the best of any defensive lineman on the team) simply isn’t valuable enough to override his inability to reach the passer (he had zero sacks and the lowest quarterback pressure rate).  He never really seemed to fit well in the 3-4 defense, so I’d expect him to land with a 4-3 team this offseason.

By the way, you can find more in-depth stats on the Cowboys’ defensive line here.

7.  WR Jesse Holley

A lot of people will want to provide Holley with another season to prove himself, but I just don’t think he possesses the big-play ability as a wide receiver to keep him around.  He’s awesome on special teams, but is that enough to justify a roster spot?  Fourth and fifth receivers should be great on special teams and have tremendous upside as a receiver.  The latter characteristic isn’t one Holley possesses.

6.  RT Alex Barron

Barron was a failed experiment.  At least Dallas didn’t give up much (just Bobby Carpenter) to acquire him.  As of now, Sam Young should be the Cowboys’ starting right tackle in 2011 (a free agent or high draft pick seems likely).

5.  LB Keith Brooking

In my 2010 Inside Linebacker Grades, I gave Brooking a ‘C’ overall grade, including ‘C’ against the run and a ‘C+’ in pass coverage.  That’s quite a downgrade from the ‘B+’ he received in 2009.  Brooking is a great leader, but his on-field play has declined so much that there’s no justification for a roster spot.  It’s time to see what Sean Lee can do.

4.  WR Roy Williams

Williams had an up-and-down season, but everyone knows his contract is far from ideal.  His production comes nowhere near justifying all the money he receives.  While Williams can still be useful somewhere, he’s not the sort of receiver that can help the Cowboys much right now.  The team already has two big, powerful wide receivers in Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, so Williams skill set and lack of special teams play aren’t a great fit in Dallas anymore.

3.  DE Igor Olshansky

Olshansky didn’t record a single sack in 2010 and had the lowest quarterback hit rate of any defensive end on the team.  Further, he wasn’t even that good against the run, tallying a tackle rate worse than that of pass-rush specialist Jason Hatcher.  In my 2010 Defensive End Grades, Olshansky’s ‘C-‘ grade was a steep drop from his ‘B’ grade in 2009.

2.  RB Marion Barber

Stats aren’t needed to notice Barber’s sharp decline.  While he’s still solid in pass protection and an above average pass-catcher, his lack of explosion and power (yes, power) have created a poor situation for Dallas.  It’s a shame Barber was starting as long as he did, and it really took an injury to get him out of the lineup.

With a bunch of money due to Barber in 2011, the ‘Boys need to cut their losses and release the veteran.  At this point, a mid-round rookie would probably be an upgrade (and the Cowboys might need to secure that rookie if they plan on trading Tashard Choice as well).

1.  RT Marc Colombo

Colombo was one of the worst offensive tackles in the NFL this season. PFF agrees, ranking him as the third-worst tackle of the 77 who tallied 300 or more snaps.  The fact that Colombo continued to start throughout the season is scary.

One of the primary ways I will be judging Jason Garrett’s future as a head coach is the manner with which he handles Colombo.  The veteran needs to be cut this offseason, and if that doesn’t happen, there will be a problem.  My detailed offensive line report is coming soon.

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10 Responses to 10 Dallas Cowboys Who Should Not Return in 2011

  1. Mark Watkins says:

    Can’t really argue with any of these. Spears at least has some use, but as you mentioned, his inability to reach the QB or bring any type of pressure makes him a bad fit. I had high hopes that Ogletree could be a decent 3rd receiver, kind of like Patrick Crayton, but now I just don’t see it. For him to already be getting a big head is a sign that it’s smart to cut bait with him. The others regressed way too much or just don’t seem to have a high enough ceiling to keep around. I hope that Rob Ryan will have enough say to result in making some big and needed changes, if Garrett didn’t already have them in mind.

  2. Vince_Grey says:

    Can’t disagree with any of those. I’m on record for years saying Spears was overrated. Columbo was supposedly hurt this season, but even at 100% I see him as a declining liability. I liked Ogletree a lot early, but a FA not willing to excel on special teams? Outta here dude.

    The only one I would like to keep would be Roy Williams, IF he would adjust his contract to something more in line with his production. Not much chance of that, but I’d keep him under those circumstances. Anyone disagree?

    BTW, if all this happens, we’re gonna be in serious need of some receivers, DL, and, of course, we need some help at safety for sure. Lot of holes to fill with one draft.

  3. Scott says:

    Perhaps last season Colombo is the one who should have been released instead of Flozell, as Flo continued to be relatively productive for Pittsburgh, while Colombo declined badly. The thing is it was easy to release one OT last year because we had Free ready to step up, and having some starts at RT in 2009 to provide some confidence that he could do the job. Not so with Young. He seems to have potential, but we really don’t know. So it’s rather scary to rely on him as our starting RT. But at this point Colombo has got to go, despite not having the luxury of knowing how we’ll replace him like we did with Flo. So whether it’s Young or a draft pick or a FA, we need a new RT.

  4. Tyrone Jenkins says:

    I don’t disagree.

    Although, I will say of all those listed, keeping Roy Williams makes the most sense. I’m not advocating that, but just from a financial standpoint, the cap hit from an outright release will be steep (it’s like paying him to not be around). Rotoworld is reporting he’s due $9.25 million but I’m unsure if all that counts toward the cap if cut.

    The thing about him that I think troubles most are not his so-so receiving #s (37 catches for 530 yds) but the untimely fumbles (3); especially the one vs. the Saints.

    My suggestion: Jerry should call him into the office and say “Now Roy, you know we love you here. We really do. But your performance wasn’t what we’ve expected for these past couple of years and we just can’t afford to pay you what you’re due for the rest of your contract. I’d like to keep you but in order to do that, I’ll need you to accept a new contract that pays you somewhere around the $1-$1.5 million this year (based on meeting incentives) and an option for a 2nd and 3rd year (again, based on meeting performance goals). Otherwise, I gotta let you go.”

    That puts the decision in Roy’s hands to test the market elsewhere (w/ a FAT severence check from Jerry) or swallow his pride and play for what should be an 8-8 or 9-7 football team next year.

  5. starred4life says:

    I suggested cutting Roy last year, when it wouldn’t have mattered against the cap, and everyone acted like I was a complete dumb*** for even suggesting it, as it would have too expensive. Now, because of the cap situation, we’ll probably be keeping him for another year.
    I’ll have to disagree with you on Ogletree though. He didn’t contribute much his first year, which is understandable for a late round selection (used to getting by at the college level on his size/speed). I was hoping to see more of him last season. But the guy is the fastest receiver we have, he has good size and he’s young. Now that he should be completely comfortable with the entire playbook, the speed of the game, and every route on the tree, we want to cut him? (only to start over with another rookie?) Why? he’s not expensive. It’s not like there are a ton of options pushing him off the roster. If we let go of Roy, who are we going to have? Dez (injured as often as not) Bryant, and Miles Austin? We need someone who knows the playbook behind those two. Hurd is a reliable option, but he doesn’t have the speed to scare anyone.

  6. Vince_Grey says:

    Starred, unless you’re the second coming of Drew Pearson, no FA receiver should EVER have any sort of diva attitude and not want to play special teams.

  7. Omar says:

    Wow. There is a lot of deadweight on this team, the only guy I’d really argue with is Spears but even then…it’s kind of a moot point since they can do quite a bit better than him. I’d have a slight quibble with the WRs on this team, Roy Williams still has value he’s just too damn expensive.

  8. Omar–This is from Tyrone on another post. . .

    Wow.

    I just read on DallasCowboys.com that Roy Williams cap hit for next year will be in the ballpark of $13 million (assuming there is a season – if there will be a season, then there most likely will be a team salary cap).

    At that price, he is 99% assured to return.

    http://www.dallascowboys.com/news/editorial.cfm?id=A5D20A84-A6A1-CF60-7AEDE61D0109AD79

  9. Sarah S says:

    first time here and just wanted to stop by to say hi all!

  10. Pingback: Dallas Cowboys News and Notes, 2/21/11: Marion Barber Detained by Police | Dallas Cowboys Times

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