Dallas Cowboys Veterans Who Have Been Put on Notice This Offseason
With the 2014 NFL draft in the books, the Dallas Cowboys made some tough choices that made it seem like they’re committed to building this team the right way. They passed on Johnny Manziel for Zack Martin and traded up for DeMarcus Lawrence in order to cement a young core in the trenches.
Now, the biggest need for this team is to eliminate players who have made a habit of underachieving.
This season will be a proving ground for many of the Cowboys players who are trying to latch on to the team as they continue to improve and eventually become contenders. Not all of them will make it, unfortunately.
Let’s take a look at the Cowboys who have been put on notice for the upcoming season.
Last season, Mackenzy Bernadeau was the starter at the guard position for the Dallas Cowboys. However, the 2014 NFL draft might have been a sign the team isn’t very committed to him at all.
Bernadeau has already lost his job to first-round pick guard/tackle Zack Martin. Martin projects to eventually move to right tackle, but for now, he’ll be afforded the opportunity to adjust to the game from the interior of the offensive line.
As if that weren’t enough to rattle Bernadeau, recent news has surfaced that, according to Jon Machota of The Dallas Morning News, the Cowboys tried to trade back into the third round to acquire Trai Turner, the offensive guard from LSU.
The Cowboys have completed an offensive line rebuild with Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick and now Zack Martin as the anchors. Bernadeau’s future is seriously in question.
With Doug Free entering a contract year, the Cowboys made a move toward replacing him with the selection of Zack Martin.
Bad news for Free.
Free has had an up-and-down career as a Cowboy and recently took a pay cut to stay with the team. Although he had a stronger 2013, he turns 31 before 2015 free agency, which is a little old for a team obviously looking to get younger on the offensive line.
Free has been more than put on notice. The writing on the wall is clear—he’ll be gone in 2015.
Don’t get me wrong; DeMarco Murray is a very good running back. He blocks well, runs well and is a dangerous receiver out of the backfield. Yet for all of his talent, his inability to stay on the field is a real problem.
Running backs have become undervalued and underutilized in the NFL. Considering the wealth of talent that college brings and the cheap value they come with, it’s hard to justify giving a second contract to a rundown, injury-prone back.
Murray may have a great season, but his mileage presents too much risk for a team trying to make better decisions.
When the Cowboys switched to the Tampa 2 scheme, Bruce Carter was supposed to emerge as a dynamic player at the “Will” linebacker position.
That didn’t quite work out.
More often than not, Carter looked inept. He struggled in coverage, and his confidence seemed shaken. It got so bad that Carter was benched early in October in favor of Ernie Sims.
Per Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk, Rod Marinelli recently spoke out about trying to help Carter get back on track, saying, “It’s a man’s game, man. Play it the right way.”
If that isn’t putting a player on notice, I don’t know what is.
No one has his back against the wall more than Morris Claiborne. The Cowboys gave up a lot in order to select Morris Claiborne in the 2012 NFL draft. Claiborne was supposed to be a “blue-chip player” who projected to be an elite cornerback in the NFL.
Those expectations may have been a little much, but Claiborne hasn’t even sniffed around them.
The Dallas Cowboys had the league’s 30th-ranked defense in terms of passing yards allowed per game, and a lot of that had to do with the cornerback play. While Claiborne excels as a physical man-to-man corner, he displayed virtually no physicality in 2014 and struggled to stay on the field.
At this point, Claiborne is likely the team’s third-best option at cornerback behind Orlando Scandrick and Brandon Carr. If he doesn’t show up in 2014 with a big year, he’s going to be looking for a new home sooner rather than later.