If this is the end of an era for the Dallas Cowboys, it's as unceremonious as it gets. There are others over the course of franchise history who didn't get to go out on their own terms, of course, because the NFL is a business -- at the end of the day. You can ask Dez Bryant if that statement is true, as the most glaring recent example in Dallas of how one day you're wearing The Star and the next you're sitting on the curb, but few (if anyone) thought that would be how the book closed on long snapper L.P. Ladouceur. It appears that, in the end, Ladouceur wasn't any safer than Bryant or kicker Dan Bailey before him, with the Cowboys looking to abruptly looking to move on in 2021.
The team has agreed to terms with Jake McQuaide, former long snapper of the Los Angeles Rams, on a one-year deal -- sources confirm to CBS Sports -- reuniting him with special teams coordinator John "Bones" Fassel in the process.
Ladouceur was expected to return for a 17th season, and was sitting just three games shy of breaking the team's all-time record for most games played (held by Jason Witten). Ladouceur has 253 games with the Cowboys under his belt, but his mark will presumably come to a screeching halt there and Witten, who'll sign a one-day contract to retire a Cowboy for the second time, will remain atop that throne. The two-time Pro Bowler has not made a decision on if he'll retire just yet, a separate source noted on Monday, as he mulls either hanging up his cleats or joining another club in 2021 -- having played only for the Cowboys since the Canadian legend was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2005.
The 40-year-old has been literal perfection at his position in play, durability and character. He's not missed a single game in his 16 years with the club and owns several records because of it, including the honor of most NFL games played by a player of Canadian descent. A legend in two countries, Ladouceur's name was rarely ever heard in a game, and that meant he was doing his job -- the one occasion he entered the spotlight being on a controversial "snap infraction" called against him during a close game against the Washington Football Team in October 2018.
If not for that flag, which is still highly debated, his record of perfect snaps would've remained technically impeccable.
These are big shoes for McQuaide, or any who come after Ladouceur, to fill, but the Cowboys are ready to try and see them filled, albeit unnecessarily. Ladouceur showed no decline in 2020, and that could land him a position elsewhere on a team having issues securing mistake-free play from their long snapper; assuming he doesn't simply call it a career. McQuaide joins kicker Greg Zuerlein in reuniting with Fassel, as the coordinator rolls over another one of his favorites from his time with the Rams but, unlike Zuerlein -- who landed a three-year deal -- McQuaide will have to hit the ground running.
His one-year deal will undoubtedly come attached to competition at the position, making the move that much more curious for the Cowboys, when you consider it was one of the few positions they did not need to address in 2021. And yet, they did anyway, likely sending a Ring of Honor and future Hall of Famer out of the door in the process -- having previously convinced him to wave off retirement and instead stick around for them in each of the last two seasons.
That won't be the case a third consecutive time, though, to the surprise of many.