Why It’s Okay If The Dallas Cowboys Don’t Play


What I am talking about is the Cowboys being invisible in free agency.  This column is one of very many written on the Cowboys efforts, or lack thereof, in free agency this year.  But, while many bemoan the fact that the Cowboys salary cap issues have taken them out of the game, so to speak, I am here to tell you it’s a good thing.

December 30, 2012; Landover, MD, USA; Dallas Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr (39) reacts to a penalty call against the Cowboys in the final minute of the fourth quarter against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field. The Redskins won 28-18. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

As I have written before, each player a team goes after in free agency represents, for the most part, failure in the draft.  So, you can sum it up for the Cowboys by saying they have not drafted well at safety and offensive line.  Last year’s activity was an indication of that, as well as with the cornerback position.  And this goes back to what I have said in the past, that free agency should come after the draft, not before.

I am not so sure the Cowboys would have spent $50 million to go after Brandon Carr if they knew they were going to be able to draft Morris Claiborne, the top corner in the draft.  With Claiborne and a healthy Mike Jenkins they would have been set for a number of years.  But that’s not how the system is set up, so you are seeing teams chase after players to fill needs that could be filled much less expensively in the draft.

The money spent on Carr caused the Cowboys to bargain shop for free agents to help shore up the offensive line and that didn’t work out very well.  The lesson being learned here is that there are two reasons a team lets players leave in free agency.  In the case of Carr, it’s that he became too expensive for the previous team to afford to keep.  In the case of the free agent offensive lineman they signed that weren’t very expensive, the previous team could afford them, they just weren’t good enough for them to try to keep.

Due to the aforementioned salary cap issues though, the Cowboys have no choice but to fill their needs in the draft this year and discontinue the cycle that causes them to keep re-working contracts leading them to sit on dead money for players no longer on the roster.  The crop of players available in this year’s draft, fortunately for the Cowboys, is very heavy with good players at the Cowboys positions of need.

This might just be the strongest draft for offensive lineman and safeties that I have seen in all my years of following the Cowboys and the NFL.  As a result, I believe the Cowboys can draft some young, relatively inexpensive, players that they can count on for years to come.  Many seem to think the Cowboys need to use a high pick on a defensive lineman, and while it might make sense in the later rounds, I think that offensive line and safety are positions of much more urgency.  If Anthony Spencer had been allowed to leave in free agency, then there would be much more of an immediate need to do something about the defensive line.

What I have seen in free agency this year seems to be an insane game of musical chairs with teams losing a player and then signing a player with similar attributes from another team.  And as far as concerns with all of the Philadelphia Eagles signings, need I remind you of the “dream team” they put together a few years ago with free agent signings?

November 11, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson (39) looks on during the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park. The 49ers and the Rams tied 24-24. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

And for all of those whose cognitive abilities I question due to insane suggestions like the Cowboys signing former St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson in free agency I ask, why would you pay big money for a running back that is at the end of his shelf life, at twenty nine years of age, when you have a young dynamic back like DeMarco Murray?  Sure Murray has some issues with injuries, so they need a capable backup, but preferably an inexpensive low mileage one, not one that has taken about eight years of hard hits and has a high price tag.

Whether by necessity or design, the Cowboys are in a position to break the cycle of madness of paying big money for veterans to fill positions of need caused by deficient drafts and I’m glad to see it.  Big money contracts need to go to players they originally signed that merit a raise by their performance, not mercenaries from other teams.