15 best free agent signings in Dallas Cowboys history

Deion Sanders, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Deion Sanders, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /
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22 Sep 1996: Center Ray Donaldson #53 of the Dallas Cowboys looks on from the sideline as he takes an opportunity to get a drink during a defensive series in the Cowboys 10-7 loss to the Buffalo Bills at Rich Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. /

6. Ray Donaldson, C, 1995

During the team’s first two Super Bowl wins of the 1990s, the starting center was Mark Stepnoski who made the Pro Bowl three times but then signed with the Houston Oilers in 1995. With their young star heading to an in-state rival, the Cowboys turned to free agency and went with a much more seasoned vet in Ray Donaldson.

Before heading to Dallas, Donaldson spent 13 years with the Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts and two with the Seattle Seahawks. He made four Pro Bowls in that span and continued to play well into his late 30s.

In 1995, he was the oldest starting center in the NFL at the age of 37 and did a fantastic job. Donaldson and the Dallas line not only continued to pave the way for Emmitt Smith but Troy Aikman was also sacked just 14 times that season — and they surrendered just 18 all year.

Unfortunately, Donaldson suffered a broken ankle late in the season and had to watch as his team won the Super Bowl. He then returned for one more campaign, starting all 16 games in 1996 at the age of 38.

The former second-round pick from Georgia finished his impressive 17-year career by making it to the Pro Bowl in his final two seasons with Dallas. Not a bad way to go out.