An argument can be made, non-quarterback skill players should NOT be re-signed to multi-year extensions but rather the Dallas Cowboys should treat RB and WR as replaceable parts.
We’ve been hearing about it for a while: Running backs are easy to find and easy to replace. Re-signing them to multi-year contract extensions is foolish because it steals financial resources from positions that aren’t so easy to find/replace.
But what if running backs aren’t the only position that’s easy to find and easy to replace? What if receiver is the same, and as such, should be treated as a replaceable part? As crazy as it sounds, a case can be made for such an idea. We discuss it today…
We know elite running backs rarely live up to their second contracts in today’s NFL. The disappointment combined with the weekly fresh-off-the –scrapheap success has caused many to join the “running backs don’t matter” social club.
RBs don’t matter doesn’t mean the position itself lacks worth, but rather speaks to the specific personnel playing it in a given system. We see replacements and journeymen routinely perform just as good, if not better, than the blue-chip player they replaced all the time. Blocking and scheme seem to play a bigger role in RB success than the individual manning the position. That’s what “running backs don’t matter means.”
Cowboys Twitter had a field day this postseason because the RBs who were making waves simply weren’t anything special. They were thriving in a scheme and when one went down, another seamlessly replaced them. In an attempt to highlight their lack of pedigree one known “RBs don’t matter” personality posted the gory details
Best yet, in an attempt to discredit him another personality showed us WRs aren’t much different. Star Super Bowl relievers are often playing on their rookie deals. So what if…they’re both right?
Now, obviously there are flaws in these examples. Like, why are we just using base salary? And, how were these players acquired (high draft pick, low draft pick, off the street)? But that doesn’t mean there isn’t something to gain from this argument.
These days, college WRs are entering the NFL more polished and ready than ever before. And with the popularity of the spread offense and an increase in passing, more and more NFL-caliber receivers are coming out than ever before.
This year in particular college football is dumping one metric boat load of WR talent on the NFL. Unlike so many other positions, starting WRs can consistently be found anywhere in the draft. Perhaps it’s worthwhile for teams to replace expensive proven receivers with young cheap labor. It’s certainly been working for the past decade of Super Bowl teams.
Don’t get me wrong, no matter whom the Dallas Cowboys draft at WR, he isn’t going to be as good as Amari Cooper. But while a pedigreed rookie may only be 80% of Coop, it may be worth it if he comes at 10% of the annual cost.
The money saved by not re-signing Cooper could be used on other positions which are not easily found and developed. For instance, the bust rate at DT is always high in the draft. It’s a risky position in which to invest draft capital. If Dallas took that Amari money and spent it on a proven free agent DT and used the high draft pick on a dynamic receiver to replace Cooper, they’d be playing to the strengths of market all while loosely following a blueprint so many Super Bowl teams seem to have stumbled into recently.
Am I endorsing the end of Amari Cooper in Dallas? No. I think great things are ahead for Coop. I’m simply discussing a curious idea that defies conventional wisdom. And doing things like this is exactly how teams innovate in sports.
Something to think about regardless of where you stand on the importance of RBs and WRs in today’s NFL.