Ten Cowboys who might not return
By Calvin Watkins
It’s that time of year again when, after taking a few naps and drinking a lot of coffee, we’ve decided to list the 10 Cowboys who need to go. Or might need to go, depending on your point of view.
So here’s our list of 10 Cowboys players who might not return in 2011:
1. Marc Colombo: We think he’s a great leader for the band Free Reign. However, as a right tackle, his health, knees, and age (will be 33 in October) is too much to overcome. Colombo is due a $2.6 million option bonus. But if there’s younger talent out there in the draft — USC’s Tyron Smith, for instance — then go get it. Colombo is one of the leaders of this team and he’ll be missed if he’s gone, but sometimes you have to move on.
2. Marion Barber: He’s not a starting running back. Never was. He’s paid like one, but doesn’t play like it. This silly rotation of Felix Jones, Barber and Tashard Choice has to stop. End it by setting Barber free. He got a $12 million signing bonus in 2008, and he hasn’t earned a penny. Not one. He hasn’t rushed for 1,000 yards since getting it, and his health continues to be an issue.
3. Alan Ball: He’s not a starting safety for an NFL team. He did get better toward the end of the 2010 season, but it’s clear Ball is better served as a corner. He will return to the team because the Cowboys have his rights, but it’s doubtful if he can make plays on the ball on a consistent basis. Ball likes to tell reporters (mainly me) that we don’t know what we’re talking about when it comes to the game. OK. Fine. Stats Inc. — a business built on knowing what players have done and are supposed to do — credited Ball with getting burned 23 times in 2010, tied with Antrel Rolle of the New York Giants for the most in the NFC East. Ball was also charged with allowing seven touchdown passes, tied for most in the division, and he was credited with just four pass breakups, tied for the lowest in the division.
4. Jason Hatcher: He might need one more chance to prove he can become an dependable pass rusher, and the Cowboys will do that with their tender contract offer. Hatcher would like something more substancial, and it won’t happen here unless he gets more playing time. It seems the team values Stephen Bowen more than Hatcher.
5. David Buehler: He struggled to make field goals last season. That missed PAT at Arizona on Christmas Day, which lost the game, was probably the last straw. He’s an excellent kickoff guy, but new rules — which could lead to more touchbacks for kickers with weaker legs — means Buehler might be out of a job unless he can make field goals.
6. Sam Hurd: He’s waiting for his chance to become the No. 3 or No. 4 receiver and hasn’t done it. He couldn’t surpass Miles Austin and seemingly now Kevin Ogletree to move up the depth chart. Hurd is a good special teams player, but he wants more — and that’s why the Cowboys will let him find a new team this offseason.
7. Martellus Bennett: We’re waiting for Marty B to emerge as a threat. You can blame the quarterback, playcalller, defense, type of offense run, whatever. Bennett isn’t producing for any number of reasons. He seems to talk more than he plays, which isn’t a good thing in the NFL. A trade seems the best thing. With John Phillips returning from a torn ACL, however, Bennett’s status is safe for now.
8. Gerald Sensabaugh: Like Alan Ball, he played better toward the end of the season. He could be a little more physical. He had 10 pass breakups while allowing just one touchdown last year, according to Stats Inc. Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett said they want the free agent to return, but at what price?
9. Leonard Davis: The big fella was a good free agent pickup a few years ago, but he was benched early in the 2010 season for poor play and only returned when Montrae Holland suffered an eye injury. Davis performed well as the season progressed, but if the Cowboys can find a younger replacement who is more athletic, then they might have to do it.
10. Roy Williams: He wasn’t involved in the gameplan the last six weeks of the season. What’s the point? He can’t live up to the contract, so a new scene seems to be in order. However, the uncertainty of Dez Bryant‘s off-the-field issues, and whether or not Kevin Ogletree improves, gives you pause. Williams has the tools to produce. The question is: Why can’t the Cowboys get him going?