IRVING, Texas -- Fresh off vacation, there are plenty of things to wonder about with training camp around the corner.
Let’s get to it:
I wonder if Jason Witten will retire in the same manner that Tim Duncan retired. I don’t see Witten announcing before a season that he will retire. He is signed through 2017, and I think the Cowboys might look at signing him to a fourth contract before this one runs out. Witten turned 34 in May. He has already played in more consecutive games than anyone in team history and is the franchise leader in receptions. At 207 career games, he is closing in on Ed “Too Tall” Jones’ record for most games played (224) in team history. Witten isn’t about chasing records. He is about chasing a championship. That’s all that matters to him now. In some ways, Witten and Duncan are alike. They simply outwork everyone while being blessed with God-given gifts. Duncan walked away with a quiet news release. Witten could do the same, but I have a feeling Jerry Jones will want the pomp and circumstance of a farewell day, if not season.
I wonder if the signing of Justin Durant is more about Mark Nzeocha and Damien Wilson than it is about replacing Rolando McClain. To me, the starting middle linebacker on Week 1 barring injury should be Anthony Hitchens. I certainly understand why the Cowboys would look for veteran help at linebacker given the 10-game suspension of Rolando McClain. I understand why the Cowboys would look at Durant. The coaches liked him in his two-year run with the Cowboys but didn’t like that he played in as many games (16) as he missed (16). I don’t believe this is about moving Sean Lee to middle linebacker. While Lee has the instincts to play anywhere, I want my best playmaker on defense in the playmaking spot on the defense and that’s at the weakside linebacker spot.
I wonder how much of an advantage it will be to the Cowboys that they will have the fourth claiming spot in the waiver-wire process through training camp and early into the regular season. In the past they have missed out on candidates because they were in the middle of the pack or even lower in the process. This season, they have to worry about just three teams: the Los Angeles Rams, Tennessee Titans and San Diego Chargers. The Titans and Chargers play a 3-4 scheme, so that could help the Cowboys in their chase to find position-specific help for their 4-3 defense.
Speaking of Durant, I wonder if the Cowboys should look at another former defender. No, not Greg Hardy. That door is closed. I wonder if they would look at George Selvie if they did not like the look of what they have in training camp along their defensive line. Selvie had just one sack last season for the New York Giants. He started three of the 12 games he played. He’s not a superstar. He’s not a difference-maker. But he’s solid. He had 10 sacks in two seasons with the Cowboys. Why Selvie over, say, Jeremy Mincey? He’s 29. Mincey is 32.
I wonder if it is realistic to think the Cowboys can get a long-term deal done with center Travis Frederick during training camp. Well, anything is possible, but there is a lot of work to be done. The Cowboys put the placeholder on Frederick in the spring by picking up his 2017 fifth-year tender, which guarantees him $8 million or so. But if you go back two years when they did the same with Tyron Smith, the club and Smith’s agents had several discussions in the spring before they were able to finalize the 10-year agreement in training camp. There did not appear to be any significant talks with Frederick’s agent, Joe Panos, who also represents Smith. The two have a good working relationship, so a deal could come together quickly, but there are many bridges to cross.