Some people agree with the move, some people don’t. Some people, like myself, are on the fence. Any way you slice it, there’s a lot to wonder about the release of tight end Chris Cooley.
Head Coach Mike Shanahan responded to comments by saying that Cooley had “earned the right” to see if he could start someplace in the NFL. I’m not really sure that’s the real reason.
Was he attempting to send a message to other players on the team? Who knows.
Does he truly believe Cooley is still a starter in this league? I can’t say.
I personally think this was a money move. There was already a loss of $35M in cap space because of last year’s contracts. It doesn’t help that there are holes on this team that need to be fixed in order to be successful. I seriously doubt that Pop Shanford wanted to pay several million dollars this year alone for a reserve TE/FB. What sealed the deal for me on this theory was the press conference today. When asked about taking the risk to lose Cooley and keep Davis (in light of the suspension last year), Shanahan replied that he understood he’s taking a risk and said, “we could have lost two tight ends this week.” If that isn’t a cryptic response, I don’t know what is.
A response like that could only make me believe one thing: “We like you, we want to keep you here. But you’re too expensive for your position on the depth chart. So to make sure no one curses me out in the press conference later today, I’ll tell them that you wanted to start, and you deserve the opportunity to see if you get that #1 job with another team.”
That’s also code for “Don’t be surprised if we take that money and sign a defensive back or offensive linemen we trade a couple of these receivers for.”
Regardless of the thoughts any one of us may have about the situation, the reality is, the three amigos have a TON to prove to themselves, their teammates, and most importantly, Shanford and Son. Niles Paul is the newest member of the bunch and he’s going to have to prove Mike Shanahan knows what he’s doing in trying to become his Shannon Sharpe. Logan Paulsen has already proven that he can block well, but now he must prove that he can be the reliable, sure-handed version of Chris Cooley we all remember. Fred Davis not only has to do his own job and do everything Cooley used to do as a starter, he must also stay clean — regardless of the immense amount of pressure the franchise has now put on him.
Of course everyone will be watching the quarterback situation. The next most important issue on the team is the offensive line and folks will be watching that too. Next in line will be a toss-up between the defense and the trio of guys assigned to demolish defenders on the line and in the very next play to outleap some of the best defensive backs in the game.
We’ll see if they got this one right.
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