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patrick crayton trade | The DC Times

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Could this be Patrick Crayton’s last game in a Dallas uniform? Five Reasons the Cowboys must keep him

Trade rumors surrounding Cowboys wide receiver Patrick Crayton have heated up once again.  ESPN is reporting that even if the Cowboys don’t trade him by Saturday, there is a solid chance they will simply release him.

To me, cutting Crayton would be the team’s biggest blunder of the season.  Here are my top five reasons the ‘Boys need to keep Crayton:

1.  The odds of Bryant, Roy Williams, and Miles Austin all staying healthy throughout the season are slim. 

That trio is nice, but let’s not forget the team would be one injury away from having Kevin Ogletree on the field quite often.  Ogletree has shown a lot of promise, but he’s not ready to be a No. 3 receiver just yet. 

An injury would also likely force the Cowboys to use more two-tight end sets, something they might be hesitant to do since they may only keep two tight ends.

2.  Bryant isn’t ready to fully contribute just yet. 

I know expectations are through the roof for this kid, but let’s remember he hasn’t played football competitively for a year.  He needs to be phased into the offense.

3.  The Cowboys are ready to win in 2010.

Crayton’s $2 million salary is steep for a potential No. 4 receiver, but now isn’t the time to hoard money.  I suppose it is easier for me to say that because it isn’t my money, but hey, what can $2 million really buy you these days?  Probably only like five really nice houses.  I’m more of a six house kind of guy.

In all seriousness, the Cowboys are a better team this year with Crayton, so they should keep him.  They aren’t rebuilding.  Plain and simple.

4.  Crayton’s been the most reliable wide receiver over the past few years.

Jason Witten’s been the most consistent pass-catcher, but Crayton has been extremely clutch on third downs and in the fourth quarter.  I do believe Miles Austin is the real deal and Dez Bryant appears to be so as well, but who really knows?  There’s a right time to take a chance and a wrong one.  Taking a chance by releasing Crayton right now is about the worst time.

5.  He’s an insurance policy at punt returner.

Crayton’s not spectacular and I know I’ve criticized him in the past, but he’s consistent and reliable when back deep for punts.  He’s going to lose this job whether it is to Akwasi Owusu-Ansah or Dez Bryant, but if Bryant acquires a major role on offense and AOA struggles at all, Crayton needs to be there.


Patrick Crayton’s Tenure in Dallas: What’s the Future?

Some players in the NFL are so athletic and explosive that you have no choice but to marvel over their talent.  Other players are less naturally-gifted, but still do all of the little things right to succeed.  They work hard.  They study film.  They stay out of trouble.

No one would mistake Cowboys wide receiver Patrick Crayton as falling into anything other than the latter group–and that is okay.  For the last few years, Crayton has been one of quarterback Tony Romo’s most reliable targets in Big D.  Incredible athleticism is nice, but reliability and consistency are just as important.

After skipping the first two weeks of (voluntary) OTAs, Crayton has returned to Dallas.  He is happy to be back, saying, “This is my thing right now: I’m not going to sit here and complain about things I can’t control. If I go out there and give it my all and bust my tail and do what I’m capable of doing, I’ll be here. If that’s not the case when it comes down to it and the numbers get crunched and I’m not here, I don’t know what to tell you. But you’re going to get my all every day.”

There’s really nothing more for which you could ask from any Cowboys player.  Despite obvious disappointment about his current role on the team, Crayton is going to wade through the current mess and fight for his job.

We believe Crayton has a role on the offense.  Despite the addition of Dez Bryant, the Cowboys don’t have a true slot receiver–other than Crayton. Now, his punt return duties are likely over, but that may be a good thing.  Despite returning two punts for touchdowns in 2009, Crayton isn’t exactly Reggie Bush back there (actually, we published an article back in February on why Dallas should make a push for Bush–but that was before he broke up with Kim Kardashian).

Of course, some analysts are projecting Bryant, Kevin Ogletree, and even Miles Austin to receive some significant time in the slot, but all are question marks as of now.  In a previous article on Crayton, we wrote:

Roy Williams is obviously not a slot receiver.  Dez Bryant is an option, but if he ends up overtaking Williams in the starting lineup (which will obviously happen eventually), he will be playing outside as the X or Z receiver.

The Cowboys could also look at Kevin Ogletree, who we believe has the sort of skill set which most resembles that of the prototypical slot receiver (outside of Crayton).  Still, Ogletree is an undrafted second-year player with very limited experience.  Can he be trusted as a slot receiver just yet?  We believe Crayton’s experience in the slot is alone enough to justify his stay in Big D, as he provides a skill set which we cannot be sure would be present following his potential release.

Crayton apparently disagrees with our assessment, calling himself “an insurance policy” in case one of those players doesn’t pan out or there is a training camp injury.

We disagree.  We’ve even gone as far as predicting that Crayton will be one of six Cowboys receivers on the 53-man roster this season.

Make no mistake about it–the Cowboys took Bryant in the first round due to value, not because they were necessarily unhappy with their prior wide receiver corps.  In that light, perhaps Bryant is the insurance policy–on Roy Williams.

Let’s not also forget that Crayton is capable of playing special teams, even if he isn’t a return man.  This could come in handy, particularly if the Cowboys trade (unlikely) or release Sam Hurd.

Ultimately, Crayton is taking the right approach concerning this matter.  He skipped two weeks of OTAs to (understandably) demonstrate his frustration.  When push comes to shove, however, Crayton will be on the field in Dallas because he is a Cowboy at heart.  You can bet your last dollar that he will do everything possible to retain his job this season.  He won’t complain.  He won’t be a distraction.

And that’s exactly why you can expect Patrick Crayton to remain in Dallas in 2010.


Cowboys News and Notes: 6/8/10 (Patrick Crayton OTAs, Tony Romo U.S. Open)

Perhaps Crayton realized the team is not going to release him (at least not just yet) and cannot find a suitable trade partner.  We are still projecting Crayton to be in Dallas this season.

Romo started his second round off poorly anyway, but this could at least silence some of the unenlightened who (still) think Romo isn’t totally committed to football.

The cover 2 Bryant saw at Oklahoma State is much different than what he will see in the pros, however.  In the NFL, most teams run a “Tampa 2”–a defense that sends a speedy middle linebacker to the deep middle part of the field (the weakness of a traditional cover 2).  Thus, sitting down in the middle of the field behind the linebackers and in front of the safeties won’t be as easy.

Cowboys Minicamp Questions

Dallas is the NFC’s No. 1 team, which might be a stretch with New Orleans and Minnesota still lurking.  Surprisingly, he has the Chargers as the league’s top team.

These rankings seem off.  We are definitely No. 1.


Cowboys News and Notes: 5/27/10 (Martellus Bennett, Orlando Scandrick, Patrick Crayton)

This is obviously huge praise for a guy on the same team as All-Pro tight end Jason Witten.  It also supports our “B+” grade for Bennett’s blocking in 2009.

We think Sensabaugh will improve in 2010, but it is way too soon to offer him a long-term deal.  We gave him a “C” overall grade for his work last year, as he gave up a 67.4% completion rate and had the worst Dallas Cowboys Times Pass Defense Rating.

Although Scandrick struggled a bit last year (we gave him a “C” overall grade), it would be a big blow to the team if this injury is more significant than it appears.  With Alan Ball now at safety, the Cowboys have only Cletis Gordon, sixth-round pick Jamar Wall, and undrafted rookie Bryan McCann behind the top three CBs.  ESPN Dallas agrees that cornerback depth is a concern.

Jerry Jones Supports New York Super Bowl

The Cowboys’ points-per-100 yards was 5.3–the lowest of any playoff team.  According to former coach Bill Parcells, good teams should score approximately seven points-per-100 yards.  We can think of no better way to increase this number than creating turnovers on defense.

We still maintain the Cowboys will keep six wide receivers, with Crayton being one of them.  Even if the Cowboys do let go of either Crayton or Sam Hurd, a player such as Titus Ryan could sneak onto the 53-man roster.


Cowboys News and Notes: 5/24/10 (Deon Anderson’s Future, Patrick Crayton to Dolphins?)

This tidbit shocked us.  Upon reading it, we looked into our database and it seems to be true.  Anyone want to bet this will change by the end of 2010?

There doesn’t seem to be much interest on Miami’s part.  We are rapidly becoming one of the few media outlets still predicting Crayton to be in Dallas in 2010.

Placing the Super Bowl teams at No. 1 and No. 2 seems to have become standard practice nowadays, but we don’t think it is a necessity.  Nonetheless, the No. 4 positions seems like a suitable one for Dallas.

We think Anderon’s future is in the hands of Roger Goodell.  If Anderson gets suspended for multiple games, he will likely be cut.  If not, however, we think he will stay in Dallas this season.  Remember, offensive coordinator Jason Garrett loves to use a fullback, and the Cowboys were incredibly successful with Anderson on the field in ’09.

Besides, Anderson was nice enough to take pictures with “The Blonde Side” author Amber Leigh.

Jerry Jones on Remaining Stadium Expenses

Jenkins is quickly becoming the Cowboys’ best cornerback.  We gave him an “A-” grade for his work last year, and if he can improve his tackling, Jenkins will become one of the NFL’s best CBs.

Of the forecasts, we agree with all except “9. Tony Romo will throw at least five more interceptions but 10 more touchdowns than last year.”  We will have detailed stat projections as the season nears, but we don’t see Romo throwing 10 more TDs this year.

Ball performed fairly well in coverage last season as a safety, allowing a completion rate of just 45.0% and only 6.35 yards-per-attempt.  However, his missed tackle percentage of 22.2% must improve dramatically.  Overall, we gave Ball a “C+” grade for the season.


Patrick Crayton’s Future in Dallas

Pro Football Talk recently published an article detailing their thoughts on Patrick Crayton’s future with the Dallas Cowboys.  In their opinion, it will be very difficult for the Cowboys to either retain or trade CraytonThey believe his role–which is likely to be diminished in 2010– does not justify his $2 million salary.

Further, they believe (and we agree) that a trade is highly unlikely.  First, the Cowboys had the last two days of the draft (after they selected Dez Bryant) to possibly ship Crayton out of Dallas, meaning if a trade was coming, it probably would have happened by now.

Secondly, if $2 million is too steep of a price for the Cowboys to pay for a slot receiver, why would another team dish out the cash?  Any trade would include Crayton’s contract, and because he doesn’t figure to have an incredibly impactful role on any team, there just aren’t too many teams (perhaps none) knocking on Dallas’ door for Crayton’s services.

Despite Crayton’s contract, however, we disagree with PFT’s assessment that he has no value to the ‘Boys in 2010.  Although he obviously won’t have the same role for the Cowboys as in prior seasons (he is likely to lose punt return duties and will see less offensive snaps), he still has the ability to play well in the slot. 

Roy Williams is obviously not a slot receiver.  Dez Bryant is an option, but if he ends up overtaking Williams in the starting lineup (which will obviously happen eventually), he will be playing outside as the X or Z receiver. 

The Cowboys could also look at Kevin Ogletree, who we believe has the sort of skill set which most resembles that of the prototypical slot receiver (outside of Crayton).  Still, Ogletree is an undrafted second-year player with very limited experience.  Can he be trusted as a slot receiver just yet?  We believe Crayton’s experience in the slot is alone enough to justify his stay in Big D, as he provides a skill set which we cannot be sure would be present following his potential release.

Another thing Crayton has going for him is that he could surely play special teams.  He of course contributed on special teams as a returner previously (and he can still be a backup option as a punt returner), but we don’t see any reason why he couldn’t be placed in the lineup on kickoffs or as a gunner on punts.

Although he has asked for a clarification of his role in Dallas, Crayton says he will attend all mandatory team activities.  That fact may not be the reason the Cowboys keep him, but it certainly won’t hurt.  Crayton has shown and continues to show a loyalty to the Cowboys that the coaches (and fans) certainly respect.

Ultimately, we disagree with PFT’s idea that Crayton will not be on the Cowboys this season.  We placed him on our 53-man roster projection for a reason–he still has value to the team.  His $2 million salary is high for a receiver without a big-time offensive role, but not so much so that he is incapable of being retained.

Expect the Cowboys to be unable to find a trade partner for Crayton, but for the veteran to remain in Dallas this season.  He isn’t a dominant, game-breaking sort of player, but the reliability he brings to Tony Romo and the offense is certainly of value to Dallas.


Cowboys News and Notes: 5/14/10 (Martellus Bennett, Patrick Crayton, Keith Brooking)

The Cowboys averaged an impressive 5.5 yards-per-carry out of two tight end sets.  They also tallied 43% of their total yards with two tight ends on the field.  This success comes despite the team’s decreased efficiency when running plays out of “Double Tight Right Strong Right.”

You can find our 2009 overall tight end grades here.

We fully expect Bennett to win the #2 tight end spot.  Still, with the addition of Dez Bryant and the likelihood of an increased workload for Felix Jones, Bennett’s opportunities figure to be limited. 

We previously wrote about Bennett’s uncertain future in Dallas.

We disagree.  Barring injury, expect the Cowboys to retain six wide receivers.  We see Sam Hurd’s departure from Dallas as more likely due to Crayton’s experience in the slot.

More on the Williams vs. Bryant battle

If Buehler wins the job, the roster spot Dallas would save could go a long way in adding depth to another position.  Right now, we would put the odds of that happening at about 50/50.

Assuming Brooking is able to return healthy, this could be a blessing in disguise for the Cowboys, as youngsters Jason Williams and Sean Lee will acquire more reps with the first team. 

We actually expect Williams to win the nickel linebacker job.  We view Lee as the eventual successor to Brooking, however.


Cowboys Poll: Wide Receivers

In our 53-man roster projection, we predicted the Cowboys will retain six wide receivers: Miles Austin, Roy Williams, Dez Bryant, Patrick Crayton, Kevin Ogletree, and Sam Hurd.  Crayton are Hurd, of course, could get dealt or released prior to the start of the 2010 season.

Of those two scenarios (traded or cut), we see the latter as more probable, considering the Cowboys did not receive a suitable offer for either player in this year’s draft.  With Bryant being selected in the first round, Dallas had two days to find a trade partner for Crayton or Hurd and were either unable to do so or unwilling to pull the trigger.

Keeping six wide receivers is obviously a luxury, so the fates of Crayton and Hurd could be directly linked to the pre-season success of kicker David Buehler.  If Buehler wins all kicking duties, the Cowboys may be more apt to retain an “extra” wide receiver.


Cowboys News and Notes: Darren Sharper Could Be Visiting Dallas

We argued that Crayton’s ability in the slot would override the Cowboys’ acquisition of two new returners in the decision to keep or release him.

A lot of fans will be excited about this, but we aren’t thrilled.  Sharper made a lot of plays last season, but he is a gambler who has also consistently yielded big chunks of yardage throughout his career.  We will watch more film on him, but we don’t think he is an upgrade over Alan Ball at this time.

We are planning on doing something similar once we finish our 2009 grades.  Interestingly, Watkins has Dez Bryant already listed as the Cowboys’ 10th-best player.

Reliving the Dez Bryant selection

The 3-4 defense is certainly becoming “in vogue” in the NFL, meaning offenses will soon adapt to it.  The defenses which can best adjust to these offensive adaptations will be the most successful.

Sicko is a longshot to make the roster anyway, but we personally don’t think he will succeed in the NFL.  Granted, we know literally nothing about his skill set (at least we are honest), but players who thrive at the highest level are generally those who love the game.


Cowboys’ Wide Receiver Situation: A Closer Look

Earlier today we posted our Dallas Cowboys 2010 projected depth chart.  We are predicting that, barring a trade, the ‘Boys will keep six wide receivers on the roster. Since neither Patrick Crayton nor Sam Hurd were dealt on draft day, it is unlikely another team is going to yield a draft pick for them.

But will one of the Cowboys’ pass-catchers be released?  NFL Network recently took a look at the situation:

If a Cowboys’ wide receiver is cut, it will almost certainly be either Crayton or Hurd. Obviously Miles Austin and Dez Bryant are locks to make the roster.  It won’t make many fans happy, but Roy Williams isn’t going anywhere either.  We can also throw Kevin Ogletree in that group, as his play in 2009 justifies his stay (particularly at such a young age).

While Crayton and Hurd were on the trade block, both still have valuable roles in Dallas.  Crayton may have lost his return duties, but he is still the team’s only true slot receiver. He doesn’t do anything extraordinary, but he is a reliable player who goes over the middle and rarely drops balls.  The #1 reason he would be released is financial–he is certainly getting paid more than a #4 WR should make.  Still, Austin, Bryant, Williams, and Ogletree are big, physical receivers who aren’t necessarily well-suited for slot duties.

Hurd’s main role on the Cowboys is on special teams. He is arguably the team’s best player in that area.  Don’t think for a second the Cowboys don’t value his contributions in the oft-overlooked third phase of the game.

If the Cowboys do release a wide receiver, we expect Hurd to be the one to leave. However, the Cowboys are in a position to truly keep the best (or near the best) 53 players.  Is Hurd really on the fringe with players like Curtis Johnson, Marcus Dixon, and Travis Bright?  We don’t think so.

Ironically, the Cowboys’ wide receiver situation may be linked to the foot of kicker David Buehler.  If Buehler can win all kicking duties and save a roster position, Dallas may be able to afford the luxury of keeping six wide receivers.  If Buehler struggles, the most likely roster spot to suffer would be the sixth receiver spot.