The Cowboys’ free agency period was impeded by the ghosts of past terrible contracts, so they were limited in what they could do. In recent years, the Cowboys had handed out almost ridiculous piles of cash to players that haven’t come close to living up to their contracts:
- Leonard Davis 7 years, $49.6 million
- Roy Williams – 6 years, $54 million
- Terence Newman – 6 years, $50.2 million
- Marion Barber – 7 years, $45 million
- Igor Olshansky – 4 years, $18 million
- Marc Colombo – 4 years, $22 million
They wound up releasing Davis, Williams, Barber, and Colombo, and would have released Newman had they been able to sign the #1 guy on the market, Nnamdi Asomugha. They will struggle again in 2012, as they reportedly have $20.9 million in “dead money” against the cap next year as a result of shedding those salaries.
When free agency began, the Cowboys had a myriad of problems, with the following four being the most glaring:
- They didn’t have any NFL starting caliber safeties under contract.
- They didn’t have any starting caliber defensive ends under contract.
- No depth along the offensive line.
- They had a really good, young, healthy LT in Doug Free that I thought would be bombarded by double-digit teams with offers.
Priority numbers one, two and three were to sign Doug Free. I had been destroying Jerry Jones all offseason for not franchise tagging Doug Free when they had the chance way back in February, but they were able to get Free re-signed as a surprisingly reasonable 4 year, $32 million deal. Biggest priority done, and as an added bonus they were also able to lock up their starting LG in Kyle Kosier to a 3 year deal worth just $6.5 million. The Cowboys still have no proven depth whatsoever along the offensive line, but it could have been much, much worse had they lost Free or Kosier. HUGE sigh of relief for Cowboys fans.
Priority number two was to bring in a couple safeties. The Cowboys waited as teams like the Chargers and Rams overpaid for guys like Eric Weddle and Quintin Mikell, respectively. Eventually, Gerald Sensabaugh’s delusional contract demands came down, and the team signed him to a 1 year, $2.5 million deal. Later, they would add a guy Rob Ryan formerly coached in Abram Elam, also to a one year deal worth $2.5 million. It’s not an ideal safety duo, but the Cowboys made due with their bad cap situation.
The Cowboys also signed the very un-scary “Three bullies,” and lost the one DE, Stephen Bowen, that seemed to be developing into a legitimate starting 3-4 DE, although in the fairness to the Cowboys, the Redskins had to overpay Bowen to get him.
A free agency review wouldn’t be complete without a take on the Cowboys losing out to the Eagles on the Nnamdi Asomugha sweepstakes, so here goes: Frankly, I thought the Cowboys were silly to get involved in the first place. They have no depth along the OL. No depth at WR. They had no DEs at the time other than Olshansky. No depth at CB. They still had no safeties at the time. They’re already $20 million in the hole in 2012. And they’re going to use all their remaining cap space to sign ONE player to a deal that would be, at a minimum, $12 million/year? Foolish. Top-heavy teams with a few great stars and no depth behind them doesn’t win in the NFL. When is Jerry Jones going to learn that? The pattern never stops. Granted, the end result is that they’ll now have to face the guy twice every season, but the Cowboys dodged a bullet there, against their own bad judgment.
Blogging the bEast’s official useless letter grade – Hmmm… Tough to give a letter grade here. Does their cap mismanagement of the past count toward the grade? If yes, F. If no, B.