IRVING, Texas – Just having a quick, tough, solid-blocking receiver who is fearless is good for any offense.
Having a valuable returner on both kickoffs and punts can also have its advantages.
And then to get a player willing and fearless to run down on kick coverage to make tackles is also something that helps teams win.
It's pretty rare to have all three of those things with just one player. And that's what the Cowboys had with Dwayne Harris.
Honestly, in my years of covering the Cowboys since 1999, I really can't remember a guy who did all three things – and did it as well as Harris. I'm sure there might have been a guy like Jason Tucker or Wane McGarity who covered kicks occasionally, maybe Patrick Crayton did it a few times.
But no one was as good at doing all three as Harris. And with that, the Cowboys will miss that type of player – even though they're going to see him twice annually when they play the Giants.
Having said all of that, the price tag for Harris was just too rich for the Cowboys. Not saying Harris isn't deserving of that contract. In fact, I don't think I would ever say something like that because we say it all the time "it only takes one team to pay a player" and so even though the Cowboys might not have had any interest in paying Harris $3.5 million per season or over $3 million for Justin Durant, it doesn't mean they aren't deserving.
But even as valuable as Harris was to this team, the Cowboys can't make that kind of money (five years, $17.5 million with $7 million guaranteed) for that, especially when you consider Doug Free is making $5 million per season to play right tackle and make sure Tony Romo stays upright.
Offensively, that's why the Cowboys paid Cole Beasley his contact which nets him about $3.4 million per season. As good as Harris can be, he's still just the fourth receiver and at some point, Devin Street will need to step up and fill that role. Street is a good blocker, which was really the best thing Harris did on offense.
Beasley could possibly return punts and then you'd have to find someone for the kickoffs. Maybe that is a guy like Lance Dunbar or Joseph Randle. Maybe it's someone they can find in the draft. But teams aren't giving the Cowboys enough kickoff returns to actually make than an issue worth paying for.
Personally, I think the special teams coverage will hurt the most because players with Harris' tenaciousness to run down and make plays is rare, especially combined with his offensive skills.
But $3.5 million is just too much for the Cowboys to pay, even with his versatility.
All the Cowboys can do is thank Harris for his services and wish him the best of luck. And of course, hope he doesn't come back to haunt them when they face him twice a year.
Wide receiver/special teams ace Dwayne Harris has signed with the NFC East rival New York Giants. Harris is making about $3.5 million per season, inking a five-year, $17.5 million deal with more than $7 million guaranteed. Harris wasn't just the team's fourth receiver, but has been the Cowboys' primary return specialist for both punts and kickoffs, and even led the team in special teams tackles last year. With Harris gone, the Cowboys will now look to find a replacement in the return game.