Ellis: Routt's Release Begs The Question

IRVING, Texas -As we field questions for our award-winning mailbag section on DallasCowboys.com or on the radio shows, sometimes I think we get the rap of naysayers.

Fans will ask if such-and-such player will be pursued by the Cowboys, and we say no most of the time. It's a shame we've got to burst someone's bubble like that, but the fact is the Cowboys are just one of 32 teams in the league, so they can only have one out of every 32 players. The odds are against most free agents ending up here, and usually there's a reason why.

But the guys who have a connection to the coaching staff are usually the ones who are worth us of taking a deeper look. Such is the case with Stanford Routt, who was let go by Oakland on Thursday.

Routt played four years for Rob Ryan at cornerback. The Cowboys need a cornerback. It makes too much sense, right?

Well, not necessarily, even as word trickles out from Routt's camp that the Cowboys have already expressed some interest. In this case, as with most free agents, you just have to ask the question.

What is it his former team knows about him that you don't?

Why on Earth would the new administration in Oakland be so adament about tearing up that contract as one of their first orders of business? Of course, Ryan should know more about Routt than most coaches. But then again, he hasn't been around Routt since 2008, and there's no doubt the player has changed a lot over the past three seasons. Money changes people, too, and Routt signed a five-year, $54.5 million deal last offseason, with $20 million guaranteed.

One would think that a team starting from scratch wouldn't simply dismiss a player they're so invested in, accelerating his prorated bonus money into the cap for 2012.

The heir to Nnamdi Asomugha as Oakland's supposed shutdown corner, Routt was actually targeted more than anyone in the Raiders secondary in 2011. Opponents completed less than 50 percent of their passes against him and he defensed 15 balls, with four interceptions.

However, he also allowed eight touchdowns and committed 17 penalties, the most flags of any player on what was far and away the most penalized team in the league. Of those fouls, 16 were of the pass interference/defensive holding/illegal use of hands variety.

One of the most concerning things about Routt is this perception that he is player who is being made an example of by the new Raiders brass. How many of those guys do you want?

Yes, the Cowboys should do their necessary homework here, and if the price is right, maybe he makes sense, even though the defense needs to get younger, and Routt will be 29 when the season starts.

But before the Cowboys even think about pulling the trigger, they've got to consider why Oakland would be so willing to let the guy go.

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