Do the Cowboys need a No. 1 receiver? Tony Romo: ‘You don’t know that they don’t have one’

The Cowboys cut Dez Bryant in April and will enter the season without a true No. 1 wide receiver on the roster. Allen Hurns, Terrence Williams, Cole Beasley and rookie Michael Gallup will lead the way.

Do the Cowboys need a No. 1 receiver?

Former quarterback Tony Romo isn’t completely sure about that. Romo told NFL Total Access that it depends on how you define a No. 1 receiver, and said someone could step up and surprise much like Miles Austin once did.

Below is a full transcription of Romo’s comments:

“Depends on what you’re defining as a No. 1 receiver. Is it by name alone? Is it by talent? You don’t know that they don’t have one. There’s always someone that can come up. For me it was Miles Austin when [Terrell Owens] left. It was the same discussions then. At the end of the day, if you put the ball in small windows and you’re aggressively putting the ball where you want, there’s going to be windows. It’s just when you have someone who’s super talented, the windows are wider. So if you have Julio Jones, the windows are wider and you don’t have to be as perfect as a quarterback. As Dak continues to improve and gets to the level he feels comfortable at, the windows don’t have to be as big. From that perspective they just need guys to get into their spot and the ball will get there. That’s how they’re going to it. They’re going to run the football. They have a great offensive line. They may even have gotten better. They drafted a young kid I know they like. Expect that formula to shorten the game and keep the game and the defensive play calls pretty simple as long as they’re running the football at a high level. Which you’d have to expect them to do.”

The topic of the Cowboys’ receiving corps will heat up as the season gets closer. SportsDay special contributor Rick Gosselin recently wrote that the Cowboys don’t need a No. 1 receiver to be a Super Bowl contender, noting examples throughout NFL history of a receiver-by-committee approach working.

From Gosselin:

“There have been 18 Super Bowl champions since 2000. Seven of the champs did not have a 1,000-yard receiver, and 11 of them didn’t have a wideout catch at least 80 passes. Only two of the last 18 champions had wide receivers voted to the Pro Bowl — the Packers with Greg Jennings in 2010 and the Colts with Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne in 2006.

“Tom Brady has five Super Bowl rings on his hand. The Patriots didn’t have a wideout voted to the Pro Bowl off any of those five championship teams. Brady was winning Super Bowls with the likes of David Givens, Troy Brown, Deion Branch and Julian Edelman on the flank. When Brady had Wes Welker winning NFL receiving titles and Moss setting NFL records as Patriots, he never won a Super Bowl.

“The Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl last season without a Pro Bowl wide receiver. The Eagles also didn’t have a 1,000-yard receiver. Their leading receiver, tight end Zach Ertz, finished 19th in the NFL in catches in 30th in yards.”

SportsDay’s Jon Machota had a similar take in a recent live chat:

“It depends on your definition of a true No. 1 receiver. Do they need Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham, DeAndre Hopkins? No. But they do need a receiver or two to emerge as go-to guys in clutch situations. Every Super Bowl team has those guys and they aren’t always the biggest names in the game. Dallas has the luxury of having a great offensive line and one of the league’s best offensive weapons in Ezekiel Elliott. That takes pressure off the passing game. With that said, if you tell me the Cowboys make the Super Bowl this season, I’d assume some combo of Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley, Tavon Austin, Terrance Williams or Michael Gallup had pretty big years.”

Prescott has previous spoken about the Cowboys’ new approach to wide receivers, and said there are benefits to the new attack.

“I think it’s winning by committee,” Prescott said in April. “We have a great running back as you know, a great running game. So to be able to spread the ball all around… we’ve got a lot of weapons still.

“The way we’ll attack, who knows what’s coming.”