made. Man, would these guys kick it in gear after lunch - to the point of working recklessly.
No way can you pay Owens the $10 million signing bonus his talent deserves. No way can you extend him any leverage. He's got to stay hungry. You got to keep him over a barrel. Anything else, and he becomes uncivilized.
Now you might say, well, someone else will pay him more. Fine, let 'em. Remember, no one wanted to even give Philadelphia a 12th-round pick in a trade for Owens. And they've had a good couple of months to think about it. Nothing.
Supposedly Denver and Kansas City were going to be big players in the T. O. sweepstakes. Well, Denver owner Pat Bowlen stated the Broncos' desire had been overstated by the media. Greatly. And K.C. president Carl Peterson said he would be down with Owens on a one-year, incentive-laced deal, but had not heard back from his agent on those terms.
Now it's not out of the question some team with a death wish decides to pony up a five-year, $30 million deal for the wide receiver who turns 33 in December. Heck, have you kept track of some of the money that's being thrown around out there in free agency? Randle El, a third receiver who caught all of 35 passes - one for a touchdown last year -- getting $11.5 million of guaranteed money from the Redskins? Linebacker Will Witherspoon getting a $9 million signing bonus and $15 million of guarantees from St. Louis? How about Adam Archuleta, no more than an in-the-box, no-cover safety, getting a six-year, $30 million deal from the Redskins laced with a $10 million signing bonus?
Someone very likely will take the chance.
That someone just can't be the Cowboys.
You just gotta hope they haven't backed themselves into a corner here, although you would think they had thought this all through before making the move with Johnson. You gotta believe that just wasn't lunch Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells was having with Owens' agent, Drew Rosenhaus, back a couple of weeks ago at the NFL combine.
They must have a plan? Mustn't they?
You don't just jettison 71 catches, along with a guy playing in his sixth consecutive Pro Bowl, along with your backup tight end and possibly along with your starting Pro Bowl guard, although I use the term Pro Bowl loosely there, and not have a plan.
Who knows, maybe they already have thought of the Walker deal. That would follow what seems to be this philosophy of signing mid-range free agents and betting on the come, as they have done with guard Kyle Kosier and linebacker Akin Ayodele. Walker, going on 28, with one 89-catch season (2004) to his credit, would fit right in that line.
More I think about that option, if it is even an option since Green Bay maintains their wide receiver has a contract and that it has no intention of meeting his trade demands, the more I like it. Hey, maybe I could do both, trade for Walker and rent Owens for one year, allowing him to reestablish his market value that he most definitely had to smash to smithereens last year.
There is also the possibility of Eric Moulds entering the picture. Moulds is asking Buffalo to release him since he's anticipating not making his $7.1 million this year or the scheduled $10.85 next year. Hmmm . . . now Moulds is a 10-year veteran, but he did catch 81 passes last year. Problem is, for only 816 yards and four touchdowns. But in 2004, with Drew Bledsoe, Moulds caught 88 passes for 1,043 yards. In 2002, Bledsoe's first year in Buffalo, he had 100 catches.
Well, a 6-2, 210-pound possession receiver with 10 years of NFL experience and going on 33. A Keyshawn clone? Age, experience, size, numbers and role all about match.
What to do, what to do?
So does Bill need to get ready for a lot of those who-you-talking-to-like-that looks? Does Drew Bledsoe need to grow a second-layer of skin? Do we need to be prepared to cover those driveway sit-up sessions? Could you stomach seeing the star polished instead after touchdowns?
So if you look at all this logically, unless a trade goes down or Moulds possibly comes available, the only other answer you could come to is . . . .
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width=100% cellpadding=0 cellspacing=0> Like the idea of playing Ayodele inside next to Bradie James. He seems to be a mobile run stopper, which you need in the middle. And how nice will it be to have two nearly 250-pound linebackers in the middle? This still allows the Cowboys to find an impact player for the left outside linebacker spot, and there would be nothing wrong with the Cowboys covering themselves with a one- or two-year sweet-heart deal with a Willie McGinest. That way they could still give Kevin Burnett a chance, and look for that run-stopper on the outside in the draft. By the way, save the emails on tackle numbers. Those tackles listed for Ayodele by the NFL come right off the play-by-play sheets, which are not considered official. Teams have someone on the coaching staff, usually the strength and conditioning coach here, go back through the game tape to award tackles, and it's those numbers teams use if it comes to contract incentives. And traditionally, the tackles teams award are always higher than those awarded by the stats guys who must make a split-second decision during the games. Did I not tell you it would cost at least a $10 million signing bonus for Drew Brees and at least $10 million a year? That's exactly what the Saints paid, $60 million over six years. Me, I'd have rather given up the second for Daunte Culpepper, as Miami did, thus forcing Brees to sign with New Orleans. Boy, now this ought to get the pre-draft or draft-day trade wheels spinning since certainly Sean Payton would like to trade the second pick to someone looking for a quarterback. Good stuff. Uh, kicker, buddy. Ryan Longwell and Matt Bryant are gone. Mike Vanderjagt is a pain, and needs a kick-off guy to go with him. Adam Vinatieri is the guy, and he's off to Green Bay for a visit. Certainly he would rather kick in the near climate-controlled Texas Stadium than the Frozen Tundra.