Allen Rossum, one of the league's steadiest kick returners, was released by the 49ers on Monday and it didn't take long for the Cowboys to snatch him up. According to multiple sources, led by Adam Schefter of ESPN, the team will sign Rossum on Wednesday to bolster their return game.
There are several reasons why this move makes sense for the Cowboys. First and foremost are the two muffed punts by Patrick Crayton and Terrence Newman during Sunday's victory against the Chiefs. Mistakes on special teams are the kind of thing that a team with as slim a margin for victory as the Cowboys can least afford and Rossum hasn't put a ball on the turf since 2007. Rossum also averaged just under 15 yards per return last season and had three years with 12 or more yards per return when he played for Cowboys special teams coach Joe DeCamillis in Atlanta.
Crayton's never been that explosive as a punt returner, and both he and Newman have more important roles to play for the majority of the game. The same is true, as of Sunday, of Miles Austin. Austin had been handling kick returns alongside and in place of Felix Jones this season, but his new role as savior of the Cowboys season and Tony Romo's career means that he'll need fresh legs when the team gets the ball. Rossum has five career touchdowns on kickoff returns, and three more on punts, which should mean that Austin's explosiveness is hardly missed going forward.
The signing also raises the question of how much the Cowboys expect to be able to use Jones going forward. His flashes of brilliance have been interspersed with long stretches of inactivity. Asking a player with his talent to do less on a game to game basis may seem counterintuitive, but something's better than nothing when you're talking about a player with Jones's athletic ability.
More than any of the logistical ramifications, though, the move is a good one because it adds another playmaker to a team that's spent five weeks proving that it doesn't have enough of them. Whatever problems remain at quarterback, receiver and along the offensive line, the Cowboys need a way to score points and put themselves in a position to score points. Rossum will help them do that which is reason enough to endorse this deal.