Emergence of James Hanna Makes John Phillips Expendable for Dallas Cowboys

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | At one time, John Phillips was considered an X-Factor in the Dallas Cowboys organization.

He showed a lot of promise being the backup tight end to Jason Witten, and still possesses that good combination you need in a tight end: blocking and catching.

That, in the end, is why Martellus Bennett was shown the door this past season. Phillips' emergence as a potential reliable tight end for Tony Romo was a sign that maybe Dallas has questions surrounding the position solved.

Enter James Hanna, the rookie tight end from Oklahoma.

Before going any further, this needs to be said about Phillips: It would be terrible for the Cowboys to let him go. He still has so much promise and is a very smart football player. When called upon, he can be very reliable.

But the problem in the possibility in keeping Phillips is that he's almost resembling that of a clone of Witten, and perhaps for this offense to become even more dynamic, it's time to utilize the athleticism and speed of Hanna much more than Phillips.

As he enters the offseason as an unrestricted free agent, Phillips could get a little more money from other teams alone, just based off his potential. The Cowboys don't need to bank on his potential if they feel that Hanna's is just as level, if not higher, than Phillips'.

Both tight ends had really quiet seasons while Wittten was setting tight end records left and right. Both combined for over 100 yards, but it was Hanna who saw more playing time near the end of the season, and he made it count.

The game against Pittsburgh comes to mind when Hanna made two big catches in the second half for 45 yards.

Giving Hanna a more prominent role in this offense could make it difficult for opposing defenses to gameplan for two different tight ends. And there's the possibility that Romo could have a much better season working in two tight end sets.

Although it didn't work when Bennett was too busy posting YouTube videos doing Lord knows what, Hanna doesn't seem to have that demeanor of a constant headache.

Putting someone with great athleticism opposite of one of the all-time greatest tight ends ever could lead to some big things in Dallas on offense.

That is, if you thought big things were already in place.

Danny Webster is a featured columnist for the Dallas Cowboys. You can get in contact with him by following @DannyWebster21 on Twitter.

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