Cowboys' Crayton requests release

DALLAS -- Wide receiver Patrick Crayton, who doesn't believe the Dallas Cowboys plan to keep him on the roster this season, said Friday the team is "messing with people's careers and people's lives" and that he wants to be released immediately.

Crayton, who has not participated in voluntary workouts this offseason, said during an appearance on ESPN 103.3's Ben and Skin Show that he is concerned that the Cowboys will keep him as insurance and cut him after training camp. Crayton wants a chance to join another team as soon as possible, which he said agent Fred Lyles frequently tells the Cowboys.

"He has definitely expressed that, but they're not going to do that," Crayton said. "I'm the insurance guy."

Crayton has no clear role after the Cowboys traded up in the first round to draft receiver Dez Bryant, who is expected to be the third receiver as a rookie behind Pro Bowler Miles Austin and Roy Williams.

Bryant will also return punts, another job that used to belong to Crayton. The Cowboys are also intrigued by the potential of receiver Kevin Ogletree, who contributed as an undrafted rookie last season.

"The thing is, you want to be wanted," Crayton said. "So in order to be wanted and felt wanted ... why would you go to a place that you're not feeling that way? I'm not sure if I'm wanted or not wanted."

Lyles said the Cowboys declined a request to release the receiver after the draft.

"When inquired about a release, the Cowboys declined to grant such a request at the time," said Lyles, who said he has talked to people in the front office but not owner/general manager Jerry Jones. "However, the situation may change. The Cowboys would prefer a trade."

The 31-year-old Crayton is skeptical that the Cowboys would be willing to pay him $2 million to be their fourth or fifth receiver.

"For those guys to develop, they have to be on the field," Crayton said. "For them to be on the field, I'm not going to be on it, so I would love them to not dangle me around and everything because I have a family to think about.

"If I'm going to be with another team, I need to get used to another city, another franchise, a new coach, a new quarterback, a new coordinator, everything. Just a whole new environment. My wife and kids got to get settled in, got to get in schools and everything. I would love to have the opportunity to compete with another team versus come here and come here for a numbers thing where they're like, 'Oh, we're not going to pay you that to be our fourth or fifth guy,' or whatever the situation is and you kept me the whole training camp because you need camp bodies.

"To me, you're messing with people's careers and people's lives."

Jones recently said that the Cowboys still value Crayton and that the team has no intention of releasing him at this point.

"I don't have any issue with how he's doing,'' Jones said earlier this month. "He's one of the hardest workers we've got. Things have a way of working out. I'm not for sure where it will end up here, but it has a way of working out.''

Crayton, a native of the Dallas suburb of DeSoto, has spent his entire career with the Cowboys after they selected him in the seventh round of the 2004 draft.
He worked his way up the depth chart until taking over as a starter when Terry Glenn suffered a knee injury in 2007, when Crayton had career highs of 50 catches for 697 yards and seven touchdowns. He was rewarded with a four-year, $14 million contract.

Crayton was demoted to the No. 3 receiver after the Cowboys traded for Williams the next season. He briefly became a starter again after Terrell Owens was released prior to the 2009 season, but Crayton was demoted again after Austin's breakout 250-yard, two-touchdown game in an October overtime win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Williams has been a disappointment since arriving in the 2008 blockbuster deal from the Detroit Lions, but Jones has made it clear that the starting job isn't in jeopardy for a receiver guaranteed $12.9 million this season. The production last season from Crayton (37 catches for 622 yards and five touchdowns) was comparable to that of Williams (38-596-7) despite Crayton being targeted 19 fewer times.

Crayton said he will report to the team's Valley Ranch facility for the mandatory minicamp in June and doesn't plan to hold out during training camp. He said he wouldn't let his ego and pride prevent him from making $2 million this season, although he considers that scenario unlikely.

"It'd be an uncomfortable situation having guys play in front of you when you know that you're just as good as them," Crayton said. "But it's one of those situations, man. At the end of the day, I don't think that's going to happen."

Crayton said he hasn't had been in contact this offseason with anybody from the Cowboys other than teammates and receivers coach Ray Sherman. He said he isn't participating in voluntary organized team activities because he doesn't feel wanted and doesn't want to risk injury given his uncertain situation.

The Cowboys tried to trade Crayton during draft weekend, which he said he learned after executives from other teams contacted his agent.

"It was behind my back," Crayton said. "I just felt kind of betrayed in a way. But that's the business."

Tim MacMahon covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.