I recently read an article stating that the Dallas Cowboys front office isn’t to blame for the debacle with Doug Free. It immediately had me laugh because the front office IS to blame for the Doug Free debacle. They promised big money on a player that had has fallen in productivity to the point that he was the most penalized player in the National Football League. Did the front office have a crystal ball and foreseen his decline? Of course not, my point is that they were careless in negotiating his contract. There were other teams interested in Free in 2011 and that was fine, Free could have been a problem for another team. Dallas really wanted Free in 2011 and didn’t have any type of regard of how his contract would be affected by the salary cap.
Another example of the Cowboys mortgaging themselves over their heads was Deion Sanders. When he retired in 2002, seven years after he signed a 7 year, $35 million contract with a $12.9 million signing bonus; he was still being paid not only by Dallas but Washington as well. Dallas had to restructure contracts during those years and Sanders was still being “shown the money”, borrowing a term from the movie, “Jerry McGuire”. In 2002, Sanders wasn’t even playing in the NFL, he was a guest commentator on Monday Night Football. And that wasn’t his first seven year contract either, he signed a 7 year contract for $56 million dollars with the equally salary cap malicious, Dan Snyder and the Washington Redskins.
The Cowboys also had salary cap issues in 2001 when Troy Aikman retired the year before, they may have dodged giving Aikman a 7 year, $70 million contract extension but he still accounted for $10 million against the cap for 2001. Dallas had to release Erik Williams and Dan Hennings that year to get under the cap for that season.
Free agency hurt the great Cowboy teams of the 1990’s but the finger pointing couldn’t be pointed there solely. Jerry Jones and the front offices’ poor management of the salary cap hurt the team as well.
Going back to the problem with Doug Free, one way or the other the Cowboys are going to have to pay Doug Free his money whether they release him or renegotiate his contract. At this point, Free has the Cowboys just about where he wants them. Despite his poor play in 2012, Dallas has no replacement in mind at the moment and they aren’t very excited about free agent Eric Winston at this time. After reading Travis Frederick’s scouting report, I’m still convinced the Cowboys blew it on draft day on not getting a worthy, starting offensive lineman that could have replaced Free immediately. Dallas has gotten themselves in a real mess with Doug Free. You would think they would learn from their past mistakes of overspending and promising money that they can’t afford in the future. Jones may be a successful oilman but he has a lot to learn in the department of football management. Of course, the Cowboy fans are used to it, he has been spending like crazy for years now. To even suggest a new GM is like telling a kid “you better not eat that candy” then to only put it right in front of their face and leave them alone with it. Jerry Jones will eat his candy and drive this team to near broke, only to have to ask players to restructure their contract for years to come. Look what he did with Tony Romo’s contract, we will be paying on that contract until Romo’s kid reaches college.