I get it. A lot of Cowboys fans will do anything to resurrect the good ol’ days.
But, sorry, Jeff Heath isn’t Bill Bates.
Last week’s signing of Heath to a four-year contract reeks of desperation. And the positive reaction to it mystifies me. I think there are 31 teams who are wholly indifferent to Heath, and only a handful would sign him if he was cut tomorrow.
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But here are the Cowboys, hoping to bounce back from a 4-12 season by making him a cornerstone player signed to a long-term deal. Why?
If the simple answer is money, then I guess I get it. The Cowboys saved around $300,000 under the cap with his new contract. But I cringe at the fact that the Cowboys think so highly of a try-hard player that ultimately delivers so little.
The comparisons to Bates rank as blasphemy. Sure both are around 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds and arrived in Dallas as undrafted free agents. But let’s stop right there.
Bates was a relentless effort guy. He was one of the best tacklers in the NFL, good enough to make the Pro Bowl in ’84, be named NFL Special Teams Player of the Year and win three Super Bowl rings. Heath? His effort is there, but not the results. He’s been exposed and embarrassed in coverage time and time again as a safety, but he did lead the team with nine special teams tackles and two interceptions in 2015.
If Heath only gets on the field as one of your lower-end special teams players, I’d be okay with that. But if the Cowboys truly want to improve they need to upgrade from players like him, not lock him up with a long-term contract.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.