FRISCO, Texas – The writing has been on the wall for almost an entire year, but it's still a bit startling to sit down and read it.
Roughly a decade after he was drafted, Orlando Scandrick is no longer a member of the Dallas Cowboys. In fact, before his former club had even officially announced his release on Monday afternoon, Scandrick had already agreed to terms on a two-year deal with Washington.
That development should hardly be surprising. No other division in the NFL seems to swap talent as routinely as the NFC East, as all four teams have given deals to rival cast offs in recent seasons.
The Cowboys couldn't have predicted that the outcome would be Scandrick lining up for a division rival, but this outcome had been foreseen as far back as last spring. After all, you don't spend three draft picks on cornerbacks with an eye on retaining your veterans.
Not that anyone needs reminding, but that's exactly how the draft played out last year. The Cowboys drafted Chidobe Awuzie No. 60 overall, then they doubled down by drafting Jourdan Lewis No. 92 overall. The next day, they traded up to draft Xavier Woods in the sixth round, and they finished off the overhaul by drafting Marquez White with the 216th overall pick.
All four youngsters are prepping for their second NFL seasons. Throw in honorary youngster Anthony Brown, who is preparing for his third year at just 24 years of age, and the defensive secondary starts to look awfully crowded.
None of this even includes Byron Jones, who the Cowboys intend to try at cornerback this year, under the tutelage of new secondary coach Kris Richard.
None of this is meant to discredit Scandrick, who accrued nine NFL seasons for the Cowboys at one of the game's most demanding positions. His ability to outlast a decade's worth of challengers as a fifth-round pick was remarkable.
That said, this was clearly the blueprint. It's anyone's guess exactly how the Cowboys plan to deploy their secondary in 2018 – but they have no shortage of young talent to do it.
It's only March, so it's not a finished product as of yet. If Jones does in fact move to cornerback this year, the Cowboys look a bit thin at safety. They'll need to figure that spot out, as well as determining who best fits at each spot among their many young corners. Pretty much all of these players can play both outside and inside. Awuzie is particularly interesting, since he can play some safety – though team executive vice president Stephen Jones has hinted that the Cowboys would prefer he not.
Regardless of how they choose to use them, the Cowboys' options are varied. With Scandrick off to Washington, they boast seven defensive backs aged 25 or younger. In fact, their oldest defensive back in now Jeff Heath, who will turn 27 during offseason workouts.
It's also worth pointing out that the Cowboys currently hold 10 picks in the 2018 NFL Draft, which they could use to further shore up the secondary – whether that's another cornerback or a safety of the future.
However they want to play it, they're suddenly looking at one of the youngest and most talented units on their entire roster. That was obviously the game plan last spring, when they let the likes of Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne walk and turned toward the draft.
Scandrick was the loose end in that plan. His release, with two years remaining on his deal, is just the latest evidence that the Cowboys feel good about their decisions.