The Dallas Cowboys director of player personnel, Stephen Jones, explains why he isn’t a big fan of NFL free agency.
It’s been speculated by some that the Dallas Cowboys could be big players when NFL free agency kicks off next month. Financially, the Cowboys salary cap is in a better place than it’s been in years, opening the team up to all kinds of possibilities. But if you are expecting Dallas to go after some of the bigger names in free agency, I wouldn’t hold your breath. According to Dallas’ COO, executive vice president and director of player personnel, Stephen Jones, it’s not the way you build a team.
"“I’m not a big fan of free agency, I’ll be the first to admit it,” Stephen Jones told a group of media members while attending the NFL’s Scouting Combine this week. “Unfortunately, good players get paid like their great players. Average players get paid like their good players. It’s a domino effect. So, it’s not a great way to put your team together. But I think sometimes there’s necessities that you need to jump out and do some things. Hopefully you’re not shopping, not really having to have something, that you’re overpaying a good player like he’s a great player. We’ve done it before. It doesn’t mean you won’t ever do it again. But you try not to. Obviously, you’d like to build your team through the draft. And hopefully you drafted well and you’re able to keep those types of players and you’re not out there in free agency.”"
It’s no secret that the Cowboys aren’t high on obtaining players via free agency. All you have to do is look at last year’s signings to know that. Although they made a big splash when they landed controversial Pro Bowl Greg Hardy, they did so at a discount. Other than Hardy, the Cowboys other “big name” signings included running back Darren McFadden, linebackers Andrew Gachkar, Jasper Brinkley and Keith Rivers and fullback Jed Collins. The last three names didn’t even make it past the preseason.
The biggest difference this year is money as the Cowboys currently have $9,359,100 worth of salary cap space according to NFL.com, and less than a million dollars of dead money. They now have the flexibility to be players in free agency this offseason if they choose to. But according to Jones, it’s not their preference.
It’s hard to argue Jones’ point about many free agents not living up to their bloated contracts. The best and biggest example being on the Cowboys current roster in veteran cornerback Brandon Carr. Ranked as one of the worst cover corners in the NFL for the past few seasons, Carr is being paid on a Top Five level. In 2012, the former Kansas City Chief signed a massive five-year, $50.1 million contract with Cowboys as a free agent. Carr is scheduled to be paid a whopping $19.1 million in the next two years, and could be a cap casualty this offseason because of it.
But free agency also heavily aided the Denver Broncos during their recent Super Bowl run as well, as key players like quarterback Peyton Manning, wide recevier Emmanuel Sanders, cornerback Aqib Talib, safety T.J. Ward and former Cowboys great, defensive end DeMarcus Ware were all obtained through free agency by the Broncos in the past few seasons.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to player evaluation. No one wants to overpay for a player. But correctly determining their market value for their skill set, and then having the savvy to land some of the bigger named free agents is something the Cowboys have struggled with as of late. And according to Jones, he’s just not that interested in it anyway.
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