The Cowboys will officially release cornerback Adam Pacman Jones today, the first day teams can release players for the 2009 season.
The Cowboys had already announced their intenions to part ways with Jones after just one turbulent season. The Cowboys will save $1 million against cap by getting rid of Jones.
But Jones might not be the only player the Cowboys release on Monday.
Quarterback Brad Johnson surely will not be back next season after his poor play as the backup quarterback and then getting moved to third string behind Brooks Bollinger. That move could be made official today as well. The Cowboys will save another $2 million by releasing Johnson.
Here are three other names that will likely be considered:
* SS Roy Williams, who admitted last night on NBC 5's Out of Bounds with Newy Scruggs that he does not feel comfortable in the 3-4 defense and that he "got used" by opposing teams since the Cowboys made switch from the 4-3 a few years ago. Williams stated he wants to remain in Dallas and would consider a pay cut and even moving to linebacker. He is too small to play linebacker in 3-4 and if he doesn't feel comfortable playing safety in the defense then what good would restructuring the contract do? By releasing Williams, the Cowboys would save $2.4 million against the salary cap. Maybe more importantly in these economic times, the Cowboys would avoid paying more than $9 million owed to Williams over the next two years.
*LB Greg Ellis, who has predicted this day would come the last three years. Now that his snaps were significantly reduced this past season, he is even more sure that the time is now because of his $6.25 million cap number for next year and $4.15 base salary. Ellis was a starter in name only at the end of the season because Wade Phillips didn't want to cause in more trouble. Anthony Spencer played primarily on first and second down with Ellis serving as a nickel pass rusher. There is nothing wrong with paying a premium for such an important niche role. Ellis just has it in his head that the Cowboys are not going to pay him that much money to do it. The Cowboys could actually save $5.6 million by cutting Ellis.
The problem with cutting Ellis is the Cowboys would have to rely even more on Spencer, who has proven to be injury prone, immature and has yet to blossom into the catalytic pass rusher the Cowboys hoped he would be when they took him in the first round of the 2007 draft. Spencer was fined in training camp for missing a treatment session. He was arrested in January for public intoxication and disorderly conduct, putting him in thecross hairs of NFL's personal conduct policy.
So the Cowboys probably need Ellis to come back for one more year until they can trust Spencer. The question is whether Ellis will continue to complain about his reduced role and how that plays in what is already a dysfunctional lockerroom.
*CB Anthony Henry, who is in the final year of his contract. He has a $5.6 million cap number for next year which includes a $1 million roster bonus. The Cowboys would actually save $3.6 million against the cap by releasing Henry. It certainly has be a financial consideration for the Cowboys. The problem is that with Pacman Jones gone, the Cowboys don't have a proven option at cornerback opposite Terence Newman. Rookie first round pick Mike Jenkins didn't show enough last year to warrant the move. But then there's the matter of moving Henry to safety. He played safety on passing downs last year and will likely be a fulltime free safety before his career is up. Depending on what the Cowboys do with Williams, the Cowboys could move Ken Hamlin to strong safety and Henry to free safety.
Again considering these moves and doing them are two different things. Jones will be gone today. And Johnson will surely go at some point if not today. The others, including the looming and well chronicled decision on wide receiver Terrell Owens, are wait and see.
Clarence E. Hill Jr.