Cowboys made right call on Flozell Adams

The Cowboys’ front office can be criticized for a lot of things. The decision to cut Flozell Adams ranks far, far down the list.

Adams is making a triumphant return to Cowboys Stadium on Sunday as the Steelers’ starting right tackle for Super Bowl XLV. That doesn’t mean the Cowboys made a mistake by letting Flo go after a dozen years in Dallas.

The Cowboys made the right call to give the 35-year-old Adams’ left tackle job to Doug Free, who is their youngest and best offensive lineman.

It could be argued that the Cowboys would have been better off cutting Marc Colombo, the line’s weakest link this season, and moving Adams to the right side. But you can’t assume that Adams, a five-time Pro Bowler with a lot of pride, would have willingly accepted the position change. And it’s completely ignoring the financial part of the equation.

The Cowboys would have had to pay Adams a total of $7.5 million last season, including the roster bonus that was due right after he was released. Colombo made $4.14 million. The Cowboys kept the tackle who was way overpaid instead of the tackle who was way, way overpaid.

The Steelers were desperate for a veteran offensive tackle when they signed Adams this summer after Willie Colon suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon. Adams made a much more reasonable $2.5 million this season, a salary he earned with his solid performance.

Adams has problems in pass protection, even on the right side, ranking 22nd in the NFL with 6.5 sacks allowed this season, according to Stats Inc. (Colombo allowed 9.5.) He’ll need a whole lot of help when matched up against Green Bay’s Clay Matthews.

However, the Steelers’ running game is at its best when Rashard Mendenhall ran behind Adams. Pittsburgh averaged 5.9 yards per carry behind the right tackle, which ranked second in the league, according to ESPN Stats and Information. The Cowboys were a middle-of-the-pack team running behind right tackle, averaging 4.0 yards per carry.

Give Adams credit for playing a key role for the AFC champions. He’s earned the right to puff out his chest as he returns to the Metroplex, with his Pittsburgh linemates celebrating their arrival by wearing Adams’ green Michigan State jerseys.

But the Cowboys wouldn’t have been much, if any, better if they had kept Adams. They still wouldn’t have been a playoff team.

And right tackle would still rank near the top of their offseason needs.