The Cowboys sent Greg Ellis home from OTA's last week to prevent him from being injured while they attempt to negotiate a trade. This was a surprising revelation considering the lack of experienced depth at outside linebacker. Anthony Spencer was tabbed the starter early in the offseason but it was assumed that Ellis would be the pass rush specialist in the defense. The Cowboys drafted two players to develop at outside linebacker but I'm very surprised they are willing to go with two backups with no NFL experience over Ellis.
I think there are two things at play. Number one, Greg Ellis has a very high cap number for a guy who will be a part time player. The Cowboys have a little cap room right now but they have to get Demarcus Ware re-signed and sign their draft picks while staying under the salary cap. Releasing Ellis will create some cap room. The second issue at play is the attitude of Greg Ellis. He has never seemed very willing to relinquish his role as the starter. I wonder whether he is fighting the coaches over his new role in the defense.
I really respect Greg Ellis for battling back from two serious injuries and leading the team during some down years. But the last few years have seen him transform into a perpetual offseason whiner and complainer about his future role with the team. He is a good, not great player who doesn't seem to view himself that way. I respect the fact that he can't see himself as a backup but the Cowboys have to start cutting the cord on aging players. The mistake that Jerry Jones made with the team in the late 90's was relying on players in their twilight years and overpaying for their services. It seems like maybe Jerry has learned his lesson on that front.
I would love to see Ellis come back under a lower cap number and accept his role as a part time player but I don't see a realistic chance of that happening. Greg Ellis has been a great pro for the Cowboys and it will be sad to see him go. I hope he can have a few more good years in the league and find a place that makes him happy. Even with his complaining over the last few years I'll remember him as a solid player and a good person who did himself and the team proud while he was a Dallas Cowboy.