It's one of those awkward scenarios that every team in every sport faces eventually.
Players get older, and they begin to break down. Or players get older, but see no reason to accept diminishing pay. If both of those are in play — the aging player has injury issues and is uninterested in accepting a paycut — the team must perform an exercise in diplomacy while figuring out how to handle the situation.
Such is the scenario that faces the Dallas Cowboys with veteran wide receiver Terry Glenn, who even at the ripe old age of 33 can scare defenses when he's healthy because of his elite speed.
He is not just a track star, of course. Glenn has been very productive for years. He has terrific hands and runs crisp routes, utilizing sharp cuts to shed defenders and his speed to create separation. When he's healthy, he's a threat to score at any time.
The problem is, he's having more and more difficulty staying healthy. Glenn missed virtually all of 2007 with a knee injury, and has had his share of ankle and knee and hamstring issues. Because of his medical record, the team recently asked him to sign a $500,000 buyout clause, which would alleviate the team's financial burden by allowing the Cowboys to pay less than one-third of Glenn's salary of $1.7 million, should he go down for the year with another injury. Not surprisingly, Glenn balked at the suggestion.
Dallas could swallow the financial hit and cut Glenn. After all, Terrell Owens just got a fat new contract, so he's going nowhere, and the contracts he, Terence Newman and Marion Barber have signed over the last couple of weeks are supposed to have given the team more financial flexibility.
Owens owns one starting spot, and the role players around him — Patrick Crayton, Isaiah Stanback, Sam Hurd and Miles Austin — are useful, if not Pro Bowlers. Rookie Danny Amendola caught a lot of people's attention at the team's rookie mini-camp and OTA, and someone out of the crew of other rookies (Mark Bradford, Daniel Polk, Joe West, etc.) could emerge. In addition, don't forget the impact tight end Jason Witten has in the passing game. He's a big guy who can block, but he's one of the elite receiving tight ends in the NFL, and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has a multitude of ways in which to utilize Witten.
Glenn is about as talkative as Rowdy the mascot, but he's not a bad guy; fans always will like a guy who says little and finds the end zone. So the notion of sending him packing likely will not sit well with many Dallas fans.
But this is one of those times when the business of football must override the emotional that fans and team officials share. Football is still, of course, a business, and while Glenn still has the potential to be a very dangerous player, he has shown in recent years that he can't be counted on to stay healthy, so keeping him would make him an extremely well-paid fan — a nice sentiment, to be sure, but not a good return on a $1.7 million (or so) annual investment.
June 1 has come and gone, so the financial blow would be less than if Dallas turned Glenn loose last month. But it will still sting, financially and emotionally. Coaches and personnel executives get paid big bucks to make such decisions, and this is one that it seems has to be made.
Terry Glenn: Time to cut bait?
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