The Patrick Crayton comments last week have stirred up a lot of bad feelings about some of the offseason moves the Cowboys made last season. Crayton's ability to run his mouth has obviously not changed since he was shipped to San Diego before the start of the season. He has made comments about the Cowboys a few times in the media and it is pretty apparent that he is holding a grudge for the way things ended for him. His animosity is pretty ridiculous when you go back and look at how his departure actually played out. And most of his comments since he left have been completely off base and vindictive.
Crayton believes the Cowboys don't care about winning because they got rid of him, Flozell Adams and Ken Hamlin last offseason. Hamlin and Adams were cut for salary cap reasons as well as performance issues. Crayton was shipped out primarily because they Cowboys were afraid he was going to be a locker room problem. And let's not forget that Crayton actually requested a trade after it became apparent that he was going to be relegated to the #4 slot in the receiver depth chart.
What bothers me more than Crayton's comments are some of the fans who are actually agreeing with his comments. I can understand that Patrick is upset about how his time in Dallas came to an end. And I would probably be just as mad as he is with the Cowboys if I were in his shoes. But I think it is pretty obvious that his public opinions about the Cowboys are being influenced by his anger towards the team management and Jason Garrett.
I want to take a look at Crayton's comments that so many fans seem to be agreeing with one at a time. Let's start with Crayton's exit from Dallas. Patrick Crayton for some reason always had a mouth that was much bigger than his game. I don't want to minimize Crayton's value in Dallas because he was a big part of the offense and he was always a reliable punt returner. But he was never a top tier receiver and he was never going to be. When the Cowboys drafted Dez Bryant the writing was on the wall. Dez Bryant is not only a freakish wide receiver, he also returns punts.
So obviously Crayton was going to get shuffled down in the depth chart. He might be able to make an argument that he was more valuable than Roy Williams in the offense, but you know that Miles Austin and Dez Bryant are clearly superior to Crayton. Now throw in the fact that Patrick Crayton began to complain publicly early in training camp that he wasn't getting a fair shot at moving up in the depth chart. As much as Patrick didn't want to hear it, a supremely talented first round pick is always going to get a shot to play. And if Crayton couldn't even help on special teams it was hard to justify keeping him around. We're talking about a guy who asked to be traded, publicly complained about his spot in the depth chart, and wouldn't have contributed on game day unless there was an injury. You can't justify keeping a guy who could cause distractions in the locker room if he isn't even expected to be a significant part of the team.
Crayton's comments about Jason Garrett since he has been shipped out prove that he wasn't exactly on the Garrett bandwagon. In the end, I think it is pretty clear that Crayton needed to go since he apparently was at odds with his offensive coordinator or at least didn't care to play for Garrett. I shutter to think how Crayton may have responded when Garrett was named head coach.
Let's move on to Flozell Adams. He is clearly a player on the decline. Sure, it is great that he is going to start at right tackle for the Steelers in the Super Bowl. But let's not pretend that he was going to come back to Dallas to back up Doug Free at left tackle or move to the right side to replace Colombo. Flozell was overpaid and on the decline. I have serious doubts that he would have been willing to restructure his salary and take a demotion to back up tackle to stay with Dallas. And he was so bad early on with the Steelers that he was a back up player for them until injuries forced the Steelers to put him on the field. You could argue that he played better at right tackle than Marc Colombo and you would probably be right. But I don't think the Cowboys expected Colombo to play so poorly this season or they might have considered moving Flozell to the right side. The reality is that there wasn't really a way to keep Flozell Adams on the team once the decision was made to make Doug Free the starter. It sure would have been nice to have him but the reality is that keeping him just wasn't a real option.
That brings us to Ken Hamlin. The Cowboys screwed up when they signed Hamlin to a big money, long term contract after the 2007 season. They realized that mistake in 2008 and the problem became even more apparent in 2009. Hamlin fooled the Cowboys by having the best season of his career in 2007. The Cowboys had an opportunity to dump his salary during last year's offseason without any salary cap ramifications and they took advantage. Unfortunately the Cowboys failed to adequately address the position in free agency or in the draft. Was Hamlin better than Alan Ball? Definitely. But let's not pretend he was a great player for the Cowboys for more than one season. And he was so bad this year for the Ravens that he was cut midseason and finished the season at home on his couch just like you or me. But I do believe the defense took a hit by downgrading from Hamlin to Ball. Just remember that the Cowboys cut him for a reason.
I'm not trying to pretend that the Cowboys didn't make a lot of mistakes in their approach to the roster last offseason. They didn't adequately address safety, kicker or offensive line. But pointing at the decisions to get rid of Adams, Hamlin or Crayton is not getting to the root of the problem. All three of those players were replaceable. The problem is that the Cowboys thought that some of the younger players could step up and contribute and they were obviously wrong about that. They should have been more aggressive in free agency. Crayton's departure wouldn't even have registered on the radar if it hadn't been for a run of injuries at wide receiver. Last year's offseason was terrible for the Cowboys but not because of these three roster moves.