Cowboys just let their biggest rival embarrass them beyond belief

NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Green Bay Packers v Dallas Cowboys
NFC Wild Card Playoffs - Green Bay Packers v Dallas Cowboys / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

It was never expected that the Dallas Cowboys would be major players in free agency, but the lack of spending on homegrown players has been as baffling as it's been infuriating. If the front office was smart, it would have already locked up Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb to contract extensions.

It's expected that Prescott and Lamb will eventually sign new deals, but by waiting until the last-possible minute the Cowboys will have to pay them the absolute maximum.

As far as Lamb is concerned, his final price will hinge on whether he signs before or after Justin Jefferson and Ja'Marr Chase. It would behoove Dallas to get Lamb's deal done before the Vikings and Bengals superstars, but they actually have another star receiver to worry about in that regard.

Per ESPN reporter Tim McManus, the Eagles and wideout DeVonta Smith have initiated contract negotiations. McManus hinted that the baseline for Smith's extension will be $25 million per year.

Fast forward three days later and the Eagles and Smith have agreed on a three-year $75 million extension that includes $51 million guaranteed.

Eagles signing DeVonta Smith before the Cowboys extend CeeDee Lamb is embarrassing.

A first-round pick in 2021, Smith was drafted a year after Lamb and is under contract through 2024. He also has a looming fifth-year option for 2025 that would pay him around $16 million. Now that Smith has signed before Lamb, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more humiliating look for a Dallas team that wears the embarrassing hat better than any other team in the NFL.

Just this offseason, the Eagles had extended two homegrown pieces of their offensive line, including left guard Landon Dickerson (four years, $84 million) and left tackle Jordan Mailata (three years, $66 million).

So why were the Eagles in such a ruse to get Smith extended a year ahead of time? Because that's how elite organizations operate.

"Philadelphia has a well-established history of signing foundational players as early as possible, in part because they know the price tag will only go up. With a number of top-end receivers eligible for new deals, including Justin Jefferson and Ja'Marr Chase, there's likely extra incentive to get something done with Smith before the market resets."

Tim McManus, ESPN

"Signing foundational players as early as possible" is how it's done. That's part of what makes Howie Roseman one of the best GMs in professional sport, let alone the NFL. Rather than wait for Lamb, Jefferson, Chase and potentially Brandon Aiyuk to get new deals, the Eagles are getting ahead of the curve with a player they know they want to keep long-term.

The Cowboys have known for a while they've wanted to keep Lamb for the long haul. If Dallas operated like its foremost rival, Lamb would've been locked up last summer alongside Trevon Diggs. Instead, they gave right tackle Terence Steele a five-year deal with $50 million guaranteed coming off an ACL tear, while Lamb appears headed for a possible contract holdout while negotiations persist.

The Eagles have mastered the game of chess while the Cowboys are just learning the rules of checkers.

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