The Dallas Cowboys released defensive tackle Dontari Poe on Wednesday as part of a larger effort to shed pieces and salary from its dreadful defense.
While Poe’s performance explains Dallas’ decision, there’s reason to speculate whether there was more in play. Poe was the only Cowboys player to kneel for the national anthem this season. Anyone who has followed the Cowboys under Jerry Jones knows that’s a dangerous proposition for a player’s employment.
Jerry Jones critical of Poe’s weight, performance
Jerry Jones addressed the decision to cut Poe on Wednesday in an interview with ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. He attributed the decision to Poe’s weight and performance.
"When you're 30 pounds overweight and you're not doing anything about what's keeping you from performing well on the field, there is no reason to get into the other stuff," Jones told Mortensen.
Poe didn’t come close to living up to his two-time Pro Bowl form in Dallas after signing an offseason deal as a free agent worth $8.5 million over two seasons. In seven games, Poe tallied seven tackles with zero sacks and zero quarterback hits for the league’s 27th-ranked defense.
That’s plenty of reason for the Cowboys to cut their losses.
Did Poe’s anthem stance play a role?
But what about that “other stuff” Jones referenced? He didn’t want to talk about that with Mortensen.
“I understand your question and I'm deliberately not going to answer it,” Jones continued. “We have a platform here but the platform on the football field has a high standard, and he [Poe] was not up to the standard. He needed to correct that and he did not. I'm going to leave it at that.”
That doesn’t sound like a man who wasn’t relieved to find a football reason to release a man who defied his longstanding “toe-on-the-line” stance amid a cultural climate more accepting of social and racial justice protests during the national anthem.
Jones didn’t appear to be thrilled with Poe when he knelt for the first time as a Cowboy during Dallas’ season opener.
He leaned on that strategy again Wednesday, insisting on his silence on the issue while sticking to football.
Anyone still waiting for Jones to address player protests with the zeal he did prior to 2020 should avoid holding their breath.
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