The Dallas Cowboys have a new philosophy


The Dallas Cowboys’ new philosophy for building their team is becoming more evident with each passing year.

Philosophy is a funny thing, it can change at any time to suite your ideas. In the case of the Dallas Cowboys, they have altered their philosophy on how they are building their team. Gone are the days where the team spent foolishly, took years digging themselves out of salary cap hell and then overpaying again in free agency. It had become a blueprint for the Cowboys.

The pattern has changed. Dallas now builds through the draft and dips their toe in free agency only after the high-priced commodities are off the market. The philosophy is simple; draft well, re-sign your own players to second contracts and don’t overpay for free agents. After watching the best teams in the NFL operate like this, the organization wisely decided it was the right path for them.

After their spending spree in 2012, the infamous year of signing cornerback Brandon Carr, the Cowboys have stopped investing so much in free agents and began plugging holes with veteran players at lower salaries. In 2013, defensive end George Selvie was brought in to help put pressure on the quarterback, defensive tackle Nick Hayden to plug the middle and Ernie Sims and Justin Durant to help at linebacker.

That trend continued again in 2014 when the Cowboys brought in veteran defensive end Jeremy Mincey, as well as defensive tackles Henry Melton and Terrell McClain. They also made a low-key trade in acquiring linebacker Rolando McClain.

All of those additions from the previous two free agent signing periods, except for Sims, played a role in paving the way for the 12-4 Dallas Cowboys in 2014.

Also in 2013, the Cowboys began their string of second contracts for players they wanted to build around. It began with linebacker Sean Lee and the list over the past few years now includes wide receivers Cole Beasley and Dez Bryant, left tackle Tyron Smith, and kicker Dan Bailey among others. That list doesn’t include the players the team re-signed this season or the likely no-brainers they will sign in the next few years; count defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence and offensive linemen Travis Frederick and Zack Martin in that group.

Last year saw the additions of linebacker Andrew Gachkar, running back Darren McFadden and their only big money player in the last few seasons, defensive end Greg Hardy. We all saw how well that worked out with Hardy, another player who was signed with a hefty price tag.

So it should come as no surprise that this is exactly how the Cowboys have approached this off-season. The team has re-signed their own free agents, acquired solid players on the secondary market and are still looking to add veteran players to fill specific roles before the draft.

These moves are eerily familiar to how the team has operated over the last few years and they have executed their plan. Dallas has been aggressive with the few players they targeted on the open market and not overpaid for veteran free agents who are asking for too much money.

The Cowboys are doing their diligence when it comes to players that fit their plans and budget, while keeping an eye on the last puzzle piece, the draft. That’s where the team is now, evaluating all their options by bringing in prospects for private workouts. The Cowboys know just what’s at stake and if they are going to continue to build through the draft, they can’t miss in a year where they have premium selections.

It may have taken a few years for us to pay attention, but the Dallas Cowboys are a much smarter organization than they were before. Head coach Jason Garrett’s “process” is more than a fun slogan for us to make fun of; it’s a philosophy for building a team.

And it’s never been more evident than it has been this off-season.

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