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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IRVING, TX – JANUARY 7: Tight end Jay Novacek #84 of the Dallas Cowboys runs upfield with a recepton against the Philadelphia Eagles at Texas Stadium in the 1995 NFC Divisional Playoff Game on January 7, 1996 in Irving, Texas. The Cowboys defeated the Eagles 30-11. (Photo by Joseph Patronite/Getty Images) /

3. Jay Novacek, TE, 1990

He started as a Cowboy and ended as a Cowboy.

Jay Novacek, who was often seen donning a cowboy hat, was originally drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1985 following his collegiate days with the Wyoming Cowboys. He then moved with the team to Phoenix in 1988. In his five seasons with the franchise, he was never a full-time starter and had just 83 receptions for 1,054 yards with eight touchdowns.

He landed with Dallas (another Plan B free agency addition) ahead of the 1990 season and instantly became a safety valve for Aikman who was only in his second year. Novacek had career-highs in receptions (59) and yards (657), and tied his high for touchdowns (four) that first season in Dallas.

By 1992, he was named an All-Pro when he led all tight ends with 68 receptions for 630 yards and six touchdowns.

Novacek was also tough as nails. He suffered a partial tear in his MCL in the final game of the 1995 season but made it back from surgery to play all three playoff games including their Super Bowl win over Pittsburgh following the 1995 season. In that win, he hauled in five receptions for 50 yards with a touchdown.

That ended up being the final action for Novacek who missed the 1996 season and retired in 1997 when he was placed on the IR that season due to a chronic back injury.