Source: Associated Press
IRVING, Texas - Patrick Crayton wanted out the minute the Dallas Cowboys drafted Dez Bryant. He finally got his wish Friday, and it might've been worth the wait.
Crayton was dealt to the San Diego Chargers, where he'll be a bigger part of the offense than he would've been in Dallas and still will be playing for a contender. The change in locales isn't bad either, although he's leaving the area where he grew up.
Dallas received only undisclosed considerations, likely a late-round draft pick. The club figured it was better than cutting him and getting nothing, plus it puts him in the other conference.
The Cowboys kept Crayton all summer mainly because there was no incentive to give in to his trade request. Once club officials began narrowing toward the 53-man roster due Saturday, they apparently felt they couldn't justify keeping someone with his high salary (US$2 million) in a reduced role (fourth receiver, backup punt returner).
"You have to take everything into consideration — economics, how he fits with the team, the overall body of work — and you make a decision based on that," Cowboys vice-president Stephen Jones said. "We really waited to evaluate all our receivers. … We feel very comfortable with our depth."
They also waited to feel comfortable with Bryant's health.
The former Oklahoma State star missed the entire pre-season with a high ankle sprain, but is ready for the opener at Washington a week from Sunday. Bryant is expected to take over the roles Crayton had last season — No. 3 receiver and punt returner. Dallas may ease Bryant into the punt return job; rookie safety Akwasi Owusu-Ansah likely would be used first.
Crayton skipped off-season workouts because he was upset about Bryant's arrival. Once he showed up, there were never any problems. He just couldn't get ahead of Miles Austin, Roy Williams and Bryant on the depth chart.
"You have to let things play out," Jones said. "We really wanted to evaluate the full situation. Now we're at a point where we need to make decisions."
This move also shows faith in Kevin Ogletree being ready to take on a larger role in his second season. He had six catches for 51 yards, both team-bests, in a 27-25 victory over Miami on Thursday night.
"I think he's shown he deserves an opportunity to do more," Jones said.
Dallas also has Sam Hurd, a fifth-year receiver and special teams standout. His roster spot could be in jeopardy, too, because he has a $1.8 million contract.
Crayton was among the team's most sure-handed receivers, catching 196 passes for 2,888 yards and 23 touchdowns in 82 games, including 33 starts. However, fans will never forget that he dropped a likely touchdown pass late in a humiliating playoff loss to the New York Giants in 2007.
He'd been with the team since 2004, part of Bill Parcells' second draft class.
"Patrick's been a very productive player for this organization," Jones said. "He's done nothing but represent the Cowboys in a first-class way. There was never any hard feelings from the organization's standpoint toward Patrick."
Chargers general manager A.J. Smith didn't return a call seeking comment. He's been dealing with the holdout of Pro Bowl wide receiver Vincent Jackson, who has refused to sign his tender as a restricted free agent. Jackson could sit out the whole season.
The Chargers' projected starters are Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee. San Diego signed free agent wide receiver Josh Reed to a one-year deal contract in mid-June as a pre-emptive move against a long holdout by Jackson.
Also Friday, Dallas traded offensive lineman Pat McQuistan to the Miami Dolphins for undisclosed considerations.
McQuistan was drafted by the Cowboys when Miami executives Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland were here and Dolphins coach Tony Sparano was his position coach for two seasons. He played 40 games, but never started.
The acquisition of McQuistan gives the Dolphins more depth in the offensive line. Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long hurt his left knee during Thursday's game at Dallas.
Long left the game but walked afterward without a limp and said he was fine.