Of course they should. The Dallas Cowboys would have been fully justified in cutting ties with nose tackle Josh Brent in December, after his arrest on intoxication manslaughter charges for the car crash that killed teammate Jerry Brown. They surely could have released him this offseason. And now that he finds himself in jail with his bond revoked for a second failed drug test, there's really no good reason for him to be taking up a spot on the team's 90-man roster. Brent isn't coming back to the Cowboys this year, or likely ever, and the chances of his NFL career ever resuming with any team are incredibly slim.
The reason the Cowboys have stuck with Brent this long is compassion. They care about him. And Brown's mother, with whom Brent is very close, has asked the Cowboys to continue to support him. He's obviously crushed by the death of his friend and his own alleged role in it, and she's worried about what he'll do if he's cut loose from the structure and support system his continued status as a member of the Cowboys offers him.
You can shout all you want about not feeling bad for Brent, and I completely hear you. The crime of which he's accused is a despicable, selfish, stupid and inexcusable one. He should be punished severely for it and very likely will. But that doesn't make the story of a 25-year-old who threw away his bright NFL future any less sad. The failed drug tests don't either. This young man appears to have no control over his own life, and that's a shame. If you don't want to feel bad for him, you're justified in that. But on the flip side, the Cowboys are justified if they care about him and want to do whatever they can to help him. That's their right, and there's really nothing wrong with a little human compassion -- even in the big, cold business that is the NFL.
At this point, though, no one's going to be able to accuse the Cowboys of a failure of compassion if they decide it's time to move on. This story isn't going to get any better, and to this point keeping Brent on the roster hasn't helped him steer clear of further trouble. He obviously needs some sort of help, but it's hard to imagine a ceremonial spot on an NFL team's roster is a part of that help. Jerry Jones, Jason Garrett and Brent's teammates can surely continue to remain a part of his life to whatever extent they feel is necessary. But continuing to keep themselves connected to Brent in the professional realm is a mistake, and the organization needs to get itself out of the business of being connected with this guy and his case. In truth, they probably could use the roster spot as well.
Don't compare this to the Patriots, who cut Aaron Hernandez while he was on his way to the courtroom in handcuffs Wednesday morning. The crimes of which Brent and Hernandez are accused are not comparable, and if the accounts we've heard of what happened in both cases are accurate, Brent and Hernandez don't belong anywhere near each other in terms of character comparisons. The Patriots' decision to drop Hernandez was cold-blooded but likely correct and easy. The Cowboys' decision to cling to Brent has been a compassionate one and hasn't cost them very much. It's just that it's reached the point at which they need to move on.