If you wondered where the Cowboys fit in the NFL hierarchy, Sammy Watkins provided a resounding answer.
These days, your Cowboys are just another NFL franchise — no different than the Tennessee Titans, the Detroit Lions or the Cleveland Browns.
They’re just another irrelevant franchise stuck on the abyss of mediocrity.
The Cowboys wanted to make a bold move last week, releasing Dez Bryant, signing Watkins and invigorating a franchise that has two playoff wins in 21 seasons.
Instead, reality hit them like a left hook.
Watkins, who has one 1,000-yard season in four years after Buffalo paid a king’s ransom to move up in the draft and select him fourth overall, spurned the Cowboys for the Chiefs.
Watkins’ decision created quite a bit of tumult and consternation at the Cowboys’ offices. A series of closed-door meetings followed over a couple of days as the Cowboys plotted their next big move.
It has to be something more important than reportedly agreeing to a one-year deal with L.P. Ladouceur and scheduling a Monday meeting with Cameron Fleming.
Understand, the Cowboys remain a TV ratings superstar. Their humongous fan base stretches from coast to coast and an equally-large group of NFL fans love to hate the Cowboys, so they’re always going max out on national TV appearances and Jerry Jones is a marketing genius so they’re always going to be in the public conscience.
But when we’re talking about NFL free agents like the 25-year-old Watkins, who was 2-years-old when Dallas last won a Super Bowl, the Cowboys ain’t special.
If you step back and put your fandom aside, you’ll realize you don’t need a pair of binoculars to figure out why Watkins chose Kansas City over America’s Team.
Any number of reasons might have swayed him, considering a source with the Cowboys insists money wasn’t one of them.
Let’s start with the coaches.
Kansas City coach Andy Reid is an innovative offensive mind with job security.
We’d all be surprised if owner Clark Hunt fired Reid anytime in the next three years, considering he’s 53-27 with four playoff appearances in five seasons with the Chiefs. No one would say that about Garrett, who will begin the season as one of the NFL’s most scrutinized coaches.
Garrett isn’t guaranteed anything beyond 2018, and a skill position player such as Watkins doesn’t want to have to deal with possibility of a new coach and the uncertainty that accompanies that kind of change.
Then there’s the Chiefs’ personnel. Do you want to be part of a package with receiver Tyreke Hill, tight end Travis Kelce and running back Kareem Hunt with rookie Pat Mahomes Jr. and his powerful arm or would you prefer an offense with Terrance Willams, Jason Witten, Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott?
Right now, there’s no comparison. Kansas City has an offense built to pressure defense and create big plays. What speedy receiver wouldn’t want to play in that system?
A generation has no idea the Cowboys used to dominate the NFL unless they watch YouTube videos or their parents grew up Cowboys’ fans and passed that love down.
That generation is part of the 2018 free agent class, and that’s an issue for the Cowboys.
The built-in advantage the Cowboys had for decades is gone. Watkins' decision proved that.