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R&GHomer
03-01-2005, 09:11 PM
Veteran LB Refuses Pay Cut; Will Test Free Agent Market

Nick Eatman
DallasCowboys.com Staff Writer
March 1, 2005, 6:27 p.m. (CST)

IRVING, Texas - After the season ended, Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells promised there would be visible changes in 2005.

While a new starting quarterback was added last week and the coaching staff has seen a few modifications, Tuesday's move was more of an indication to what Parcells was talking about.

The Cowboys released three-time Pro Bowl linebacker Dexter Coakley, who has started all 127 games played in his previous eight years with the Cowboys.

In the last two months, Coakley was informed by the club he needed to restructure his contract, which still had two years remaining on the original six-year deal.

Coakley was scheduled to receive a $502,000 roster bonus on Wednesday, but cutting the linebacker Tuesday also saves the Cowboys his $3.3 million base salary that he apparently refused to lower. While the Cowboys will have to eat the remaining $1.8 million of his prorated signing bonus, the club is expected to save about $2.9 million in releasing the veteran linebacker.

However, the Cowboys have and will not close the door on Coakley completely. By releasing him now, it gives him an opportunity to test the free-agent waters, which officially begins Wednesday. Expect Coakley to at least shop his services to other teams, likely looking for a contract that could pay him around the $3.8 million he was scheduled to earn this season. But it's also expected that Coakley will likely run all offers back through Valley Ranch, giving the Cowboys an opportunity to either match or come close to a deal. Coakley has said he would prefer to stay with the Cowboys and finish his career in Dallas.

"Dexter has been a valuable contributor to this organization since the first day he stepped on the field," Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. "He is a consummate professional, both on and off the field, whose potential return to the team is something that will be explored.

"These are difficult decisions when they involve people of the class and character of a Dexter Coakley. Hopefully his future as a player in the NFL will include the Dallas Cowboys."

And with heavy speculation the Cowboys are leaning towards switching defensive schemes to a 3-4 next season, it could leave Coakley out of position. The outside linebackers in a 3-4 are more pass-rushing specialists, while the inside linebackers are usually bigger in size, able to handle pulling guards and centers in the open-field.

A big-play threat his entire career, Coakley is tied with Dennis Thurman for the club record for defensive touchdowns with five, coming on fumble (one) and interception (four) returns. He also reached double figures in tackles 40 times in 127 career regular season games. With his three trips to the Pro Bowl (1999, 2001 and 2003, Coakley is behind only Chuck Howley (six times) and Lee Roy Jordan (five) in Pro Bowl appearances in club history.

Coakley had become a staple at linebacker for the Cowboys since joining the team in 1997 as a third-round pick. The player that many scouts said was "too small" and "undersized" to be an every-down linebacker, continued to prove critics wrong, earning three Pro Bowl selections for the Cowboys and becoming a playmaking force from his outside position.

But with the arrival of Parcells in 2003, it seemed Coakley had to prove himself all over again, especially to a head coach who admitted he preferred bigger, taller linebackers. While Coakley started every game the past two years, he had to fight off second-year pro Bradie James for the starting weak side spot during training camp. And while Coakley clearly out-performed James on the field, he still had to rotate at times during the season. In fact, Coakley finished the year with a career-low 91 tackles, ending a streak of seven consecutive 100-tackle seasons, which still ranks first in team history.

And had he remained with the Cowboys, Coakley, who currently ranks fourth in club history, would have at least made a run at Darren Woodson's all-time franchise tackle record of 1,350.


Sorry if this is a repost, but I didn't see it. Do you think he would be a good fit?

DaKCMan AP
03-01-2005, 09:12 PM
Good. Another guy available who's better than anyone we currently have.

booger
03-01-2005, 10:08 PM
One interesting name that might be out there is Anthony Simmons of Seattle.

Simmons Could be Cut --
Tue Mar 1, 2005 --from FFMastermind.com

ESPN's John Clayton reports the Seattle Seahawks are considering cutting LB Anthony Simmons. Even though Simmons is considered one of their best play-makers on defense, the team has tired of his long struggles with injuries. A couple of years ago, Simmons had 4.4 speed, and he still is fast. They loved him in a division that featured RB Marshall Faulk because Simmons had the ability to cover him. Now, the Seahawks think he is overpaid and want to move a different direction. He has a $500,000 roster bonus due by March 7.


Also listed on John Claytons Section of ESPN Quick Bits.