By Will Martin
Back when I was a much younger man there was a very popular slogan that was prevalent amongst the youth of this country. It echoed a sentiment that may had been when the Vietnam War and the volatility of the 60’s was at its highest.
The slogan on tee shirts read, ‘NEVER TRUST ANYBODY OVER 30!’
To use that analogy on the lay of the NFL land these days this saying will have to be amended. With the ways of the language of the collective bargaining agreement as it is now written it shall behoove management and the powers that be how to manage money better and more fruitfully.
The new NFL slogan might be ‘NEVER PAY AN ATHLETE BIG MONEY OVER 30!’
When the 3pm CST deadline hit on March 11th there was an absolute flurry of activity and movement not only here in Dallas but elsewhere in the NFL. I’m not sure really sure what I am more surprised about. The fact that the NFL is leading the newswires with all these transactions, releases, signings, and cuts to appease a fan base eager to start planning the fantasy drafts come August.
It should come as no surprise that we said goodbye to DeMarcus Ware, Miles Austin, and Jason Hatcher. In the name of better money management ‘under the cap’ Jerry Jones had no choice but to go the route of frugality in the hope of getting younger talent at a lesser price.
Yes, DeMarcus Ware was the most decorated Cowboys athlete since the start of the Millennium. Your all time sack leader. Of late D-Ware was not providing the highest rate of return for his play due to injury, the switch from 3-4 to 4-3 and yes Father Time.
No surprise with the release of Miles Austin. Since 2010 the pride of North Jersey was more injured than able to play. 2009 was a magical year for Austin. Jerry gave him the money and now both sides move on. That’s business.
My guess is that the loudest guffawing will apply for letting Jason Hatcher go to a rival team in the NFC East, the Washington Redskins. A leader in the clubhouse and fan favorite, he will be missed; now minted with a four year deal. D Ware with a three year deal in Denver. 20 million of that guaranteed.
This takes me back to what happened to the Texas Rangers when Josh Hamilton and Micheal Young were let go by the Rangers in 2012. Ware and Spence as Josh and Michael so to speak.
Hatcher may get his buddy Anthony Spencer to also join him in DC. That’s still being discussed as this goes to press. Austin’s release takes effect on June 1st. In dollars and sense Dallas will have about 12.5 million dollars in cap space to deal with the pool of draft picks come May 8th.
The day of the athlete signing with and staying with one team for a whole career are as good as done. Here in Cowboys country the days ahead will be times of wonder, anger, concern, consternation, and blaming Jerry Jones for the 8-8 state of the Silver and Blue since 1997.
Darren Sproles now an Eagle after running his routes with the Saints. Jared Allen now leaving behind a storied run with the Vikings, Aqib Talib now a Bronco, Darrelle Revis now with the Patriots. The musical chairs game is just starting. Steve Smith is also out at Carolina.
So much for team loyalty. This is business in the NFL from here on in.
The Dallas Cowboys in 2013 had 34 sacks while finishing 32nd in the league in defense. The same amount of sacks had in 2012. Note who was on that team that is no longer here: Spencer, Ware, Hatcher, Victor Butler, Sean Lissemore, Ernie Sims and Josh Brent.
All gone, all hasta la bye bye! Which of course begs the question: Who do you, or how do you replace the pieces that you just let go of? Those changes takes years to eradicate. I mean, how long before Troy Aikman was replaced at QB? Emmitt in the backfield? Irvin at the receiver? Newton on the O Line?
Yes, you can get all kinds of worked up over who Dallas has lost. Now prepare to welcome newbies from Denver and Houston like Mincey and McClain. The new M and M if you will. Not to be mistaken with Maris and Mantle.
There was talk about Will Herring coming to Dallas from the New Orleans Saints. That deal fell through.
As fans here in North Texas ponder the way Denver and New England spend their money locally we get to experience first hand the literal meaning of making hard choices under the cap.
That, and avoiding any long term contracts to anyone over the age of 30. Or in the case of who was let go this week at Valley Ranch, 32.
May 8th will be a gut wrenching time for the Silver and Blue.