Even before the injury, there had been speculation that this would be the last year for Tuinei, a 15-year veteran who is under contract through 1998. Johnston, meanwhile, would have a significant impact on the club's '98 salary cap if he were to retire before next June 1. He signed a five-year, $7.5 million deal in March and would count $1.6 million against next year's cap if he calls it quits before June. (Retired stars Charles Haley and Jay Novacek will count a combined $1.7 million.) A bigger issue than the bulging payroll, though, is the matter of who's going to make the personnel decisions for a team that is aging quickly.
Owner Jerry Jones says he's the man. He says he has surrounded himself with good scouts and good scouting services. He says coach Barry Switzer and scouting director Larry Lacewell are outstanding personnel men. He says Switzer is every bit the talent evaluator his predecessor Jimmy Johnson is. He says all of this with a straight face.
"Who's he trying to kid?" Johnson retorted last week. "Does he think people really believe him when he says this stuff? Let me ask you this: How many Pro Bowl players did we draft when I was there?"
The answer is nine, in five drafts.
"How many Pro Bowl players have they drafted with Barry?" Johnson asked.
The answer is one, in three drafts. (That player, right guard Larry Allen, is eligible for free agency after this season.) True, but Johnson had seven first-round picks in his five drafts and in his first four years was selecting higher than Switzer in every round by virtue of the Cowboys' poorer records.
In Switzer's three drafts, only 10 of the 26 players whom Dallas selected remain on the roster. The Cowboys have traded out of the first round twice, and their top picks in the three drafts—defensive end Shante Carver, running back Sherman Williams and defensive end Kavika Pittman—have done little. This year's draft, however, looks relatively strong. Tight end David LaFleur, outside linebacker Dexter Coakley, defensive tackle Antonio Anderson and strong safety Omar Stoutmire have made significant contributions. One good draft out of four, however, is no way to stay atop the football world.
The One That Got Away
As their turn to make their fifth-round pick in the 1995 draft approached, the Packers scoured their board in search of a running back. Director of college scouting John Dorsey recommended an oft-injured back out of Georgia. But Dorsey didn't push hard, and Green Bay settled on The Citadel's Travis Jervey.
The oft-injured back: Terrell Davis, who would go to the Broncos in the sixth round. No player, besides Barry Sanders, has rushed for more yards since the start of the '96 season.