The NFL is a copycat league, and one of the toughest things for a GM to do is go against the grain on principle. Principles are important during fiery speeches from the head coach at halftime, but talent and dollars typically prevail in setting the agenda when it comes to personnel matters. As Josh wrote in a previous post: talent trumps legal issues 99 times out of 100.
So when the Dallas Cowboys -- ranked among the first NFL franchises where principles go to die -- decide to swallow their pride and eat a $9 million salary cap hit in order to release their marquee offensive player Terrell Owens, on what amounts to principle, it sets an interesting precedent. Maybe change has come to America, or at least the NFC East! In any event, T.O.'s release should allow Giants General Manager Jerry Reese to breathe a little easier in deciding the right move with regards to wide receiver-cum-thigh-assassin Plaxico Burress.
The Cowboys essentially had to weigh out the talent vs. character debate, and have now decided team chemistry outweighs the value of T.O.'s talent (granted this is a much easier decision to make now that Owens is 35 and the team has failed to advance with him). Presuming Plax gets through his legal drama unscathed the Giants will have the same opportunity to choose what matters to them most. Does anyone think if Plax produced at the level of Sinorice Moss he would still be on the roster?
Another sign pointing to Plax's future role as an ex-Giant is the growing pool of available top shelf receivers. While T.O. will surely not be an option in New York, his addition increases the fluidity of a rumor mill that now includes names like Anquan Boldin, Torry Holt, and Braylon Edwards. Any of those guys would make it a whole lot easier for Big Blue to move on.
The funny thing is if every team were retaining their top talent no matter the cost to their locker room, and there were no viable replacements on the horizon, Reese might have to do everything in his power to keep Burress, on principle. But all things considered on the current landscape, principles dictate Plax should never play for the Giants again. If not they risk the embarrassment of falling behind the Cowboys in the character department, and then they'd only be one Tom Coughlin drug deal away from becoming the Raiders.
Patrice Evans collects bad apples at his blog The Assimilated Negro.