Over the last few weeks as the lockout hopefully nears its conclusion the speculation on the future of Roy Williams has reignited. And while there are some compelling arguments for simply cutting Roy Williams and moving on if you look at the bigger picture you will see that it is very unlikely that Roy won't be back with the Cowboys this season.
Let's start with the most important aspect of this discussion. Can Roy Williams get the job done as the #3 receiver? My answer is absolutely. Don't forget that he was off to a great start last season working with Tony Romo. Unfortunately once Romo went down the entire offense shifted from a big play passing attack to a run first/dink and dunk passing attack under Kitna. What that meant was Williams production dropped off dramatically after the first six games of the year last year. Roy was averaging about 4 receptions a game and had five touchdowns in the first five games last season. With Kitna, Roy's production dropped to 2 receptions per game and he scored zero touchdowns in his last eight games played last year.
As for all of the talk about the Cowboys cutting Roy Williams to save room under the salary cap, a lot of media members need to check Roy's contract before starting rampant speculation about his future. Roy will count about $9 million against the cap if he returns next season. That is a big number to accept but consider the alternative. If Roy is cut, he will count $12.9 against the cap due to the acceleration of his signing bonus. It is hard to imagine the Cowboys paying an extra $3.9 million in cap money to unload a player. How can you justify $12.9 million is dead money against the cap when you know the cap is going to be a challenge this season? With the Cowboys expected to struggle to get under the new salary cap, the last thing they will do is waste nearly $4 million in cap space. The salary cap will save Roy Williams.
I have also heard some speculation about the Cowboys trading Roy Williams. The problem with that theory is the same as cutting Roy Williams. If you trade a player then the remaining prorated piece of their signing bonus counts against the salary cap. That means it would cost the Cowboys $12.9 to trade Roy Williams as well. And who would trade for Roy Williams with his ridiculous contract anyway?
You can make a strong case that the Cowboys are better off without Roy Williams. He hasn't lived up to the hype that builds when a team gives up the draft picks the Cowboys gave up to get him. And he hasn't lived up to his bloated contract. He has dropped the ball far too much. And he let the Cowboys down in a big way last season against the Saints.
But, even with that said, put the salary cap issues aside and think of it this way. If the Cowboys did miraculously find a way to unload Roy Williams within the confines of the salary cap who would you want to step into the #3 receiver role? The #3 receiver is on the field on a regular basis. Is Kevin Ogletree ready to step up and fill that role? He regressed last season and the thought of counting on Ogletree scares me. Sam Hurd is a free agent and may not be back. Manny Johnson, Teddy Williams and rookie Dwayne Harris look far from ready to get real playing time. And think of what happens if Dez Bryant battles injuries all year long again. Roy Williams needs to be with the team.
I'm certainly not trying to convince anyone that Roy Williams is a great receiver. But I do think he is above average. And he is better than any alternative that you are going to find with only training camp and four preseason games to learn a new offense that a free agent would get. So, if you are a Roy Williams hater, you should come to grips with the fact that Roy Williams will be back with the Cowboys this season. The best thing all of the fans can hope for is that he continues on the path he took early in the season last year with Romo at the helm. Roy Williams can be an impact player in the right situations and the Cowboys need him to be if they want to compete for the playoffs this season. And hopefully the Cowboys will find a way to restructure Roy's contract to help free up some cap room and make it easier to unload him down the road.