The Dallas Cowboys have some tough decisions ahead of them this offseason. Every decision they make will have an impact on not only the upcoming 2014 season, but on many future seasons as well. They must make the right choices about who to bring back and who to let go. One of the biggest decisions for Jerry Jones and the Cowboys is whether or not to bring back DL Jason Hatcher.
Hatcher was one of the few bright spots in 2013 for a Cowboys’ defense that finished dead last in the NFL. Hatcher finished the season with 41 tackles, and a career-high 11 sacks. He was by far the most consistent defensive performer for the Cowboys. If you just look at the numbers of 2013, most fans would say it’s an easy decision to bring Hatcher back. However, when you look at the career numbers for Hatcher, it tells a different story.
In Hatcher’s eight NFL seasons prior to 2013, he had only 11 sacks combined. Hatcher had more than 17 tackles in only three of the last eight seasons. The question for Dallas becomes, was last season a fluke or is Hatcher just a late bloomer?
Hatcher will be 32 when the 2014 NFL season begins. Most NFL players do not get better as they get older. This is especially true about defensive linemen who are getting hit on every play—often by bigger offensive linemen. Hatcher may be the exception to the rule. He may go on to have double-digit sack totals for the next three or four seasons. The odds are just not in his favor.
Jason Hatcher is going to get multiple offers from other teams and has said that he is going to go wherever the most money is. Hatcher had a tremendous season, but Dallas must weigh it against the average career performance up to that point.
Dallas has a history of signing older players and players that are coming off one good season. This is why they are currently $31 million over the salary cap. They could move money around and figure out a way to sign Hatcher and keep him in Dallas. The problem is, by signing Hatcher, it is signing a player who is older and coming off just one good season. That would be a perfect example of what put Dallas in this salary cap mess to begin with.