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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Jan 31, 1993; Pasadena, CA, USA; FILE PHOTO; Dallas Cowboys safety James Washington (37) on field after defeating the Buffalo Bills 52-17 to win Super Bowl XXVII at the Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Manny Rubio-USA TODAY Sports /

5. James Washington, S, 1990

From 1989 through 1992, the NFL employed a “Plan B” free agency system. In short, this allowed teams to protect 37 players on their roster, and those who were not tagged were allowed to test the open market. A group of players got this abolished when they sued the league but there were still some teams that benefited.

One such team was the Cowboys, as they were able to use this system to land safety James Washington who they signed after he spent his first two seasons with the Los Angeles Rams. A reserve in L.A., Washington had just 31 tackles and one interception for the Rams but was quickly moved into the starting lineup for Dallas.

He had 70 tackles that first season and then followed it up with 113 and 95 the next two years. In all, he spent five years of his eight-year career in Big D and had 398 tackles and 14 interceptions. But what really helped Washington stand out was his play in the postseason.

In 10 playoff games for the Cowboys, he had three interceptions and returned a fumble for a touchdown in Super Bowl XXVIII.

As good as Washington was, he was often overshadowed by Darren Woodson who joined the team in 1992. The second-round pick lining up along with Washington in the secondary gave the Cowboys one of the best safety duos in the NFL and made it incredibly tough for opposing teams to move the ball through the air.