Home / NFL / Dallas Cowboys: Frustrated by Cowboys’ inactivity during free agency? Here’s how their approach has changed since Brandon Carr.

Dallas Cowboys: Frustrated by Cowboys’ inactivity during free agency? Here’s how their approach has changed since Brandon Carr.

Barry Horn: How did the Cowboys get into such salary cap hell?

David Moore: Well, they dug into it by overpaying in free agency all those years for a lot of guys. Again, this is interesting because you go back: The last year they really spent in free agency was 2012. That’s when they gave Brandon Carr the five-year, $50 million deal. And they said, ‘No way he’s worth it. You overpaid. You didn’t get your return on investment.’ 

And all of that may be true, but Brandon Carr started and was a very solid player for this team for the length of his contract. 

You go since then [and] Dallas has really taken a different approach in free agency. They have signed 17 players since 2013 — so free agency from this period five years ago until now they have signed 17 players in free agency. Barry, how many players remain on this roster at this moment?

Barry Horn: Let me guess: Zero?

David Moore: You are correct.

Barry Horn: Thank you! When it comes to knowing about nothing, I know a lot.

David Moore: When Benson Mayowa was released last week as a cap move, he was the only free agent they had signed in the last five years. 

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Editor’s note: Here’s a breakdown of those 17 players.

2017

Player

Starts

Games active

Byron Bell

2

12

Robert Blanton

0

0

Nolan Carroll

2

2

Damontre Moore

0

3

Stephen Paea

4

4

2016

Player

Starts

Games played

Joe Looney

3

32

Benson Mayowa

8

27

Alfred Morris

5

28

Cedric Thornton

0

13

2015

Player

Starts

Games played

Jasper Brinkley

0

0

Andrew Gachkar

1

32

Greg Hardy

12

12

Darren McFadden

11

20

2014

Player

Starts

Games played

Henry Melton

3

16

Jeremy Mincey

22

30

2013

Player

Starts

Games played

Will Allen

2

5

*Justin Durant

12

16

*Includes initial contract with club. Doesn’t include games after he returned from playing in Atlanta for one season.

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It tells you their approach has changed. They are not big players in the first few days of free agency. They pick at the B-level and often C-level free agents as far as insurance purposes to fill spots. 

I know a lot of fans out there are going, ‘Oh my gosh. We’re losing.’ But very rarely do teams win this period and then win the Super Bowl. People get excited about this, but the most cost efficient way is still to build through the draft and retain your own players. 

And part of the reason they’re not going all in on free agency now is because they want to re-sign Zack Martin. Next year they’re going to want to sign Dak Prescott to an extension. And then the year after that you have Ezekiel Elliott they’re going to want to do something with. 

Their priority has been to keep their key players in place and supplement the roster with the draft. They’ve gotten better at that, but because of that they do nothing in free agency.

Barry Horn: So they have got to hit on one, two and three in the draft [with] their picks.

David Moore: This year, yeah, no question. And they have to hope that Jaylon Smith, Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, [and] the guys they took last year and the year before show dramatic improvement and their arc of success is going much higher and a much more rapid rate. Taco Charlton [is] another guy. 

They feel they’ve drafted well in recent years and the stats bear that out. But these guys still need to improve and get better.

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