Dallas Cowboys Financial Discipline Takes A Hit


I believe Ron Burgundy said it best when describing how a fight between fellow anchors of rival television networks went down…

"“Boy, that escalated quickly!”"

After last year’s full offseason of very modest spending in free agency, the Dallas Cowboys organization seemed to be heading in that same direction this time around as well.

We heard time after time about the reluctant nature to dive deep into the free agency pool.  We saw multiple high-priced, big-ticket items go to other teams.

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Meanwhile, the Cowboys kept their plan of financial discipline in tact, bargain shopping for every addition to the 2015 roster.  Not one of the seven guys added to this team had a cap hit higher $1.75M.

Not to mention, two of their best players, home-grown talents like wide receiver Dez Bryant and running back DeMarco Murray both got the empty pocket treatment.  Bryant not being offered a long-term lucrative deal and Murray barely offered a deal at all, allowed to walk away for nothing to a division rival.

After all that however, along comes the guy they clearly wanted all along…

Welcome to the Cowboys Mr. Greg Hardy.

Before we get any further, I feel it’s an appropriate time to say clearly for the record that I had no problem with this acquisition.  I was and still am totally on board with signing Hardy.  I also agree that giving Murray big dollars on a long-term guarantee was not right the play either.

That being said, the philosophy here doesn’t seem to add up.

What happened to not taking risks on outside talent?  What happened to making sure the salary cap would not be affected in future years?

It seems that the prospects of a pass rush singlehandedly changed the game.

On the surface, I totally get it.  At times last year, the pass rush was abysmal.  It’s very likely that the lack of ability to get to the quarterback cost the Cowboys a real shot at the ever elusive sixth Lombardi Trophy.  I mean, getting just two sacks on a guy playing on one good leg is not exactly optimal.

Digging deeper though, it just does not make as much sense as it appears.

For one, it clearly appears that the Cowboys were bidding against themselves and were going to do whatever it took to get Hardy to sign.  I mean, the only “competition” for his services was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  If you can’t pitch everything that being a Cowboy means over a franchise that wore this for 22 years, then you have a lot bigger issues than a pass rush.

Let’s also cut the crap on this “incentive laden, paid to play” talk in regard to Hardy’s contract.  Let’s just say he plays only 10 games after commissioner Roger Goodell spins his wheel of punishment and lands on a six game suspension for Hardy’s previous off the field transgressions.

Now, I know it’s an extremely unlikely scenario, but he’ll still make $7.83M this year for never laying a hand on an opposing quarterback.  Essentially, it’s Goodell who will ultimately decide just how much Hardy will cost the Cowboys, not his actual performance on the field.

Oh, by the way, since it’s only a one year deal, if Hardy does have the kind of year all Cowboys fans hope for, he goes back on the market to the highest bidder.  So much for him not having much negotiating power due to his conduct.

There’s also the matter of the two guys whose contracts are affected by the addition of Hardy.

It’s almost a given that quarterback Tony Romo will now see yet another restructure to his contract, pushing more dollars down the line on his deal so that Dallas can afford Hardy.  That is the exact opposite of what anyone wanted to see happen, by the way, not to mention the fact that it removes precious cap dollars off future years… again.

Then there is the matter of Bryant.  All he does is give 100% effort all the time.  He’s almost an exact replica of the greatest receiver to ever where “88” for this franchise, including filling the role of the passionate, fiery leader of this team.

He also produces.  Big Time.  You think Hardy’s 26 sacks over two years is impressive?  How about averaging 91 catches, 1,311 yards and 14 touchdowns over three years.  Yet he gets the franchise tag with little to know discussions of a long-term deal.

It’s hard not to already see Dallas sizing up next year’s tag for Bryant as well.  If you think that won’t aggravate him and make it less likely that he wants to come back after that, I’m not sure what to tell you.

Lastly, there is that conflict of “I really hope Greg Hardy is the missing piece to this defense and he gets the Cowboys over the hump” versus “How can I possibly cheer for a guy who was accused of the types of things he very likely did?”  Having a moral dilemma like that is never a fun thing.

Hopefully everything works out well for both the player and the organization.  Maybe Hardy uses the opportunity he has been provided to rebuild his reputation, pays off the team who took the gamble on him with his performance and the team finds a way to avoid turning over couch cushions to keep all its best players.

One thing’s for certain though.  The Cowboys pushed their chips all in on this move.  Now there is nothing left but to see how it plays out.

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