Dec. 4, 2011; Glendale, AZ, USA; Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones prior to the game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas Cowboys: Restructured Contracts Point to Poor Player Development?

The recent series of restructured contracts have left several sports pundits and Cowboys Fans somewhat scratching their heads.  Why create potential cap issues for 2014?  The reasons may never totally be known; and because Jerry Jones is involved, fully understood.  One could argue that the Cowboys have been down the restructure road before and it seems to lead to mediocrity.  However; this time, it might have been the right thing to do.

Taking a look back over the last few seasons, name a player (other than the usual suspects) that consistently stood out for spectacular play?  For that matter, take it  back to when Wade Phillips took the helm.  Who consistently stands out?  Answer, no one.

Why is that?

Could it be that the Dallas Cowboys really haven’t been as talented as they thought they were, or is it an on going issue with player development?  In other words, “coaching”.

Most would agree that for years the General Manager has based player acquisition more on “Star Power” than true positional talent; in other words, building the Dallas Cowboys brand.  Proof of this resides in the continual growth of team value and popularity, despite winning only one playoff game since 1996.

As of 2012, the Dallas Cowboys again found themselves atop the list of “most popular football teams” and the franchise itself was valued at an estimated 2.1 billion dollars.

Aug 8, 2012; Renton, WA, USA; NFL: Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Terrell Owens (10) speaks with the media following his first day of training camp practice at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

However, at the end of 2009 something changed.  The focus changed from “Star Power” with the exit of Terrell Owens 2008; then Roy Williams 2009, and went to “Buying Power”.  The uncapped year of 2010 allowed Jerry put on his best Steinbrenner act; where he did his best to buy a Super Bowl, which is how we ended up in the cap mess of 2012.

So why didn’t Star Power and Buying Power work?

To understand that you have to look back at two areas in Cowboys history, the hiring of Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells.  Both were known for positive player development.  To quantify this, look at the team’s decline shortly after Johnson and Parcells left the team.

Which brings us to the contract restructurings that just occurred.  Typically I would agree that a restructure is “putting off till tomorrow what should be done today”.  But; with no money in the Cowboys coffers for a “big splash” in free agency, Jerry’s hand was forced to rely on drafting talent and player development.  Restructuring player contracts to keep a competitive roster during the development process was the only option.

If 2013 brings team success, this “restructuring by necessity” could end up being one of the best things the Cowboys have done in years.  Now that they’re finally required  to focus on talent creation from “within”.  Could this be the end of watching the Cowboys development failures become successful starters for other teams?  Only time will tell.

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Tags: Dallas Cowboys Free Agency Jerry Jones Player Development

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