Photo By Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

With NFL free agency beginning on Wednesday, it’s no surprise that Orlando Scandrick requested that Dallas Cowboys release him.

Despite having a contract until 2019 which guarantees him a base salary of $3 million and $4 million respectively, the 31-year-old seems tonprefer being a regular starter than sitting on the bench at AT&T Stadium.

A 10-year veteran, Scandrick was a fifith-round draft pick in 2008 out of Boise State. The Cowboy, in fact, traded their fifth- and seventh-round picks to Jacksonville — a move that allowed them to draft the cornerback.

Injuries, however, saw him facing the prospect of the next generation of players taking his place at the heart of the defense. Vice president Stephen Jones kept the Cowboys options open.

“Orlando has had some injuries to deal with the last few years, but on the other hand I can remember him recently being thought of as one of the top nickel corners, or inside guys, and he can play outside as well, in the NFL.”

“And, so, he’s an integral of what we were planning to do and has been for the last several years.”

A starter in 11 of Dallas’ 16 games last season, Scandrick failed to register a sack for the first time since 2012. It was only the second time in his career as the Cowboys finished 9 – 7 and behind the eventual Super Bowl champions, Philidelphia Eagles.

He also failed to register any forced fumbles.

The Cowboys were some way off qualifying via the conference wild card as well, with Atlanta Falcons catching the last spot 10 – 6 while Detroit and Seattle both ranked higher in the list of teams which did not qualify.

Expectations aren’t high this coming season either. As of March 12, 2018, Betway is quoting odds of 10/1 on the Cowboys winning the NFC and 18/1 for Dallas to win Super Bowl LIII. The gaps apparent for several years have yet to be closed in the eyes of the bookmakers.

Dallas is believed to be open to trading Scandrick which would save around $1.4m against the salary cap, according to ESPN. Last year, the Cowboys and the New Orleans Saints talked a trade for Kenny Vaccaro, the Texas safety, as well as a sixth-round draft pick. The deal failed to materialize and a year on, Scandrick finds himself facing an immediate future on the sidelines.

Dallas Gives Youth A Chance

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Injuries curtailed his season as he missed four games with two transverse process fractures in his back as he registered 38 tackles.

While he was out, the Cowboys looked to the future and brought through Jourdan Lewis and Chidobe Awuzie as rookies and second-year cornerback Anthony Brown. Byron Jones is another safety Dallas is keen to move into cornerback this season. They are not short of options.

Scandrick watched as the youngsters took their chances and recognizes the coaches must also look to the future as much as the present in their choices, particularly rookie safety Xavier Woods who filled in well on the nickel defense.

At the back-end of 2017, Scandrick was realistic about his prospects:

“The young players here … they’re playing well together right now. They’re going to continue to grow, and continue to get better, and I’m not at the point in my career where I’m just willing to be an inactive guy or a guy that’s not a part of what’s going on and can’t help the team win.

“Obviously, I’m still under contract so that’s not ultimately my decision, but I’m prepared for whatever.”

Talk around Scandrick’s departure has been going on since the end of the 2017 season. At the end of last month, the gossip picked up pace and left Jones commenting:

“We haven’t made any decision final at this point. [A trade or release] are all things that go into the mix. You’d always like to trade anybody before you cut them. I’d rather get something than nothing, every time. We could handle the accelerations or anything that comes into play there. We’re not limited to trading anybody because of cap space.”

The Cowboys problem is that news of Scandrick’s desire to be released quashes interest in a trade unless their partners are desperate. With most commentators observing that Dallas is likely to release the 31-year-old cornerback, as his value in a trade diminishes.

While the Saints need a cornerback and Dallas might be tempted by Vaccaro again, it seems an unlikely deal. New Orleans are looking first at tight ends and wide receivers.

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