Earlier today, Jerry Jones backed off of comments made by the Cowboys’ executive vice president that the team was interested in signing Plaxico Burress, and I was a bit disappointed to hear it. Not because I want Dallas to sign a talented veteran who, on paper, would solve one of the greatest weaknesses on their roster, but because signing Burress would be just another misguided attempt by the team to replace the most decorated receiver in the franchise’s history – Michael Irvin.
Since Irvin left town, Jerry Jones has been eager to sign flashy free agent wide receivers. Notable free agent wideouts who have made their way to Dallas include Joey Galloway, Terrell Owens and Roy Williams, and none of those players were able to match the great things expected of them. Galloway was the first big-name receiver the Cowboys brought in to replace Irvin, but his tenure was a disappointment right from the start. Galloway was signed away from Seattle after racking up at least 1,000 receiving yards in four of his six years with the Seahawks, and promptly tore his ACL in his first game with the Cowboys, missing the remainder of the 2000 season. He would never top 1,000 yards receiving or appear in a playoff game during his 3 remaining years with the team.
The next big name free agent receiver to make his way to Dallas was by far the most productive one – Terrell Owens. Owens compiled at least 1,000 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns during each of his three years in Dallas from 2006-2008. But for everything Owens brought to the team on the field, he removed more off of it. Owens fractured team chemistry by getting into arguments with then wide receivers coach Todd Haley, and even accused quarterback Tony Romo and tight end Jason Witten of conspiring to keep him from getting the ball. Despite all of his production, the Cowboys never won a playoff game with T.O. on the roster.
Finally, Roy Williams was traded to Dallas in 2008, 2 years removed from a season that saw him collect 1,300 receiving yards with the Detroit Lions. Despite Dallas’ willingness to send 3 picks – including a first-rounder – to Detroit for the receiver, Williams would never even approach the level of production that was expected of him. He finished his Cowboys’ career with 1,324 yards and 13 touchdowns in 40 games with the team, prompting Jones to say afterwards that he’d “love to have that trade back.”
Clearly, if anyone should knows the risks of acquiring a high-profile receiver, it’s Jerry Jones. Not to mention, one can hardly imagine a worse role model than Burress for the troubled receiver already on the Cowboys’ roster, Dez Bryant. I was frustrated last year when the Giants failed to sign Burress only to see him sign with a rival, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Big Blue as it opened up playing time for breakout star Victor Cruz. If Burress signs with the hated Cowboys this year, expect history to repeat itself.