Hard to believe that only five days ago we were still talking about the lockout, CBA and the intricacies of collective bargaining. But then football came back - with a vengeance. Team facilities opened their doors on Tuesday, and starting at 10:00 a.m. ET teams were allowed to talk (and in some cases, sign) contracts with UDFAs, rookies and free agents.
And what a ride it's been since then. So much has already happened that the things that shocked us just four days ago are mere footnotes now as we breathlessly debate the latest twists and turns in free agency, training camp and the salary cap.
The Cowboys seem to have made it a habit of making their free agent moves late at night, so we'll use these wee morning hours to reflect on the biggest surprises in Cowboys free agency so far.
So without further ado, here are the five biggest surprises so far:
1. Roy Williams is released. Late on Tuesday, word leaked that the Cowboys were going to release Roy Williams, thereby putting him out of his misery in Dallas. The Cowboys released a slew of veterans that day, but Williams was easily the biggest surprise in that group. Because of the remaining proration on his contract, it was widely assumed that it would be too expensive to release Roy Williams. Plus, there were questions about depth at WR that had many arguing for keeping Williams. Garrett thought differently and that was the end of Williams' awkward tenure in Dallas.
2. Cowboys sign Doug Free to a surprisingly reasonable contract. The Cowboys were clear all offseason that Doug Free was going to be their top priority in free agency. "He'll be our No. 1 priority when things start up," said Stephen Jones. "We want to sign Doug back."
There was much hand-wringing, teeth-gnashing and second-guessing in Cowboys nation for months about the fact that the Cowboys had not franchise tagged Doug Free, and all sorts of horrific scenarios about the Cowboys' O-line were paraded about. Jerry's sanity was questioned, the Cowboys' certain demise was gleefully celebrated in some quarters and other nattering nabobs of negativism predicted that Free's eventual contract would cripple the Cowboys for years. But that all came to an abrupt end late on Wednesday. By re-signing Free, the Cowboys have what every team dreams of: young, bookend tackles to protect their star quarterback for the foreseeable future.
3. The Cowboys fail to retain Stephen Bowen. Reports earlier in the week said the Cowboys were 'scared to death' of Doug Free and Stephen Bowen to competitors with bigger wallet. And in Bowen's case, that's exactly what happened. The Redskins were willing to pay a lot more money for a situational five-technique than the Cowboys were. Instead, the Cowboys re-signed Marcus Spears - the guy Bowen was backing up - to a much more reasonable contract and brought in Kenyon Coleman, a DE who knows Ryan's system, to an equally reasonable contract.
4. The Cowboys enter the Nnamdi Asomugha bidding war. Going into free agency, there was little doubt that the Cowboys' top priority was left tackle, followed by safety and defensive end. Cornerback was a little further down that list, especially since the starting corners received a positive evaluation from Rob Ryan and Jerry Jones Jones said. "It's not unrealistic to think they can't play at a high level again because their skill level is good enough to do that."
But then the Cowboys got caught up in the Nnamdi Asomugha sweepstakes, and out of nowhere, Cowboys Nation fell in love with the next shiny object free agent, at least for a couple of hours until the Eagles swooped in and signed him to a cap-busting contract. Much more surprising than not winning out in the bidding war is that the Cowboys were in it in the first place.
5. The Cowboys still haven't signed a safety. Widely perceived as one of the biggest needs on the team, particularly given that Gerald Sensabaugh is also a free agent, the Cowboys arguably need to sign two safeties. Yet the Cowboys front office doesn't seem to be in a rush, while Cowboys fans watch with growing anxiety as the top names in free agency are being picked off one by one.
Of course, going out and signing some big name free agents to overpriced contracts is not exactly what this team needs, but Cowboys fans are coming dangerously close to overdosing on Pepto with the safety shelf getting emptier every day.
Those are the five biggest surprises so far in Cowboys free agency. Which one is the biggest?