NFL careers often don’t last very long and even fewer are spent with the same team. After every season, franchises have to evaluate their roster and determine who’s coming along for the following year.
The Dallas Cowboys have a very talented team on paper, but have done absolutely nothing with it in several seasons. Sometimes it’s best to move people around because the fit just doesn’t work.
The 2014-15 season will be very important for all of the Cowboys; however, it may be the final chance some players have in Dallas.
All statistics via Pro-Football-Reference.com unless indicated otherwise.
Cornerback Morris Claiborne might actually have more time than this, but he needs to step up his play significantly in 2014.
The former sixth-overall pick will be entering his third season in the league next year. Thus far, he’s been an utter disappointment in Dallas.
Through his first two seasons, Claiborne has only two interceptions while he’s missed a total of seven games. Even when he’s on the field, he hasn’t been impressive.
Claiborne will enter next year battling for the second starting corner position with Orlando Scandrick. Hopefully by the year’s end he’s competing for the top spot.
Matt Johnson is another fairly high-round draft choice who has yet to play up to expectations. In Johnson’s case, he has yet to play at all.
The safety and fourth-round selection in 2012 missed all of his rookie season due to hamstring problems. Then, he spent his 2013 campaign on the injured reserve because of a foot issue.
The Cowboys kept Johnson on the roster because of the potential he’s shown in practice and preseason games. If he suffers another long-term injury or simply doesn’t make an impact during his opportunities, Johnson won’t be with the team much longer.
DeMarcus Ware is one of the greatest Cowboy defenders of all time. However, next season could be the seven-time Pro Bowler’s last chance with the Cowboys.
Since being drafted in 2005, Ware has been one of the most consistent Cowboys. He’s recorded 117 sacks, good enough for 18th all time in the NFL.
Unfortunately for Ware and his team, it appears he’s reaching the back end of his career. Over the last two years, the defensive end has battled a number of injuries and just hasn’t performed like we’ve been accustomed to.
It’s difficult to think about Ware in a different NFL uniform, but if he doesn’t play better or agree to a pay cut, next year could be the end of an era.
Another veteran player who might not be around much longer is wide receiver Miles Austin. Like Ware, Austin’s production has declined of late and injuries have not helped.
In 2013, Austin started only eight games and had a measly 24 receptions.
The main issue with keeping him around is the amount the Cowboys are paying him. Austin’s average salary is just under $8 million. He’s being paid like a No. 1 wide receiver and not producing anything close to that.
A healthy year would certainly help his cause, but Austin needs to produce like he did in 2010, the last time he topped 1,000 yards receiving.
The last player who’s facing his final opportunity with Dallas is linebacker Justin Durant. In his first season with the organization, he played in only 10 games and managed just 24 combined tackles.
The seventh-year man out of Hampton University still has some time left in the league, but not necessarily with the Cowboys. Part of the reason is Dallas’ growing depth at linebacker.
Besides Sean Lee and Bruce Carter, Dallas has some youth in its linebacking corps who has real potential. Both DeVonte Holloman and Kyle Wilber showed promising signs toward the end of the year.
Perhaps his awful 2013 will be motivation for Durant to have a big year. If he doesn’t bounce back, look for him to be elsewhere.