It was smiles all around at Valley Ranch yesterday. The Cowboys are happy with their free agent haul, the players are happy to be in Dallas, and most of the fan are happy with what the Cowboys have gotten done in free agency so far.
Newly signed fullback Lawrence Vickers even said it's 'going to be wonderful' playing for Cowboys:
"You know what? It's going to be wonderful," Vickers said in a phone interview. "I have high expectations. I know I'm going to put the groundwork in to make sure I do my part."
"I've been smiling since I got here," said Vickers, a Houston Forest Brook product. "...It's very exciting to see this team come together, to see it in the beginning stages before the finished product."
Even the national media was highly complimentary of the Cowboys' free agency moves so far. Dan Graziano from ESPN's NFC East blog thought the Cowboys had an "Outstanding" day and Pete Prisco of CBSSports sees the Cowboys as the "Big winners on the second day of free agency".
After the break, read up on what Graziano, Prisco and others had to say about the Cowboys' eventful free agency so far.
Dallas Cowboys: "Outstanding." They got their top-choice cornerback, agreeing with Brandon Carr on a five-year, $50.1 million contract. They got their veteran, starter-quality backup quarterback, agreeing on a three-year deal with Kyle Orton. They added guard Mackenzy Bernadeau to their interior offensive line mix, where they needed (and still could use more) help. And they signed fullback Lawrence Vickers to replace Tony Fiammetta, who seems to want to go see what he can get on the market.
According to ESPNDallas.com, they have visits scheduled in the coming days with free-agent safety Brodney Pool and free-agent guard Nate Livings, so they're still hard at work trying to fill needs. The names may not be the splashiest, but the Cowboys have been down those roads before, and this measured, focused, need-based approach looks like the right way for them to go.
Winners: Cowboys They had major issues in their secondary last year. They did something to fix that by signing Chiefs corner Brandon Carr. I like Carr much more than some do because I think he's a young, ascending player. He is big and can play man coverage. The Cowboys will love having him pair with Mike Jenkins at corner. Now if they could only get better play at safety.
You can’t win in Ryan’s defense without CBs that can play both press and off-man, drive on the 3-step game and produce in blitz situations. That’s part of the job. Ryan wants to send pressure, use multiple alignments and force the QB to make quick decisions with the football. Bottom line here: the Cowboys paid a steep price to land Carr.
But outside of investing a first round pick in a CB (which Dallas could still do), this was a necessary move for the Cowboys and their defensive playbook.
But $10 million per year?
Carr's age makes it appear worth the risk, but this is boffo dollars we are talking about. Especially for a team that recently was docked $10 million in cap space (over the next two years). The Rams overpaid for Finnegan. The Buccaneers overpaid for Eric Wright. And thus, the Cowboys were forced to overpay for Carr.
The Cowboys did what they believed they had to do. And there's no doubt their defense — which pressures and plays a lot of man coverage — can do more today than it did yesterday. Coordinator Rob Ryan wants to play press man, and it just so happens that is Carr's best asset.
Carr, a durable, physical and solid all-around cover man is a huge upgrade over the recently released Terence Newman. Carr fills a big need and is only 25 years old. Orton is a pretty good backup plan for Tony Romo in the wake of Jon Kitna's retirement. Vickers is the best fullback Dallas has had in a while.
"I was blown away," said Carr, who mentioned that he's always been a Cowboys fan. "From the initial plane ride to pick me up, saw the big star on the jet. I sat down and talked with the coaches the whole way here. I got to the stadium, and it was everything that I imagined. It's the best stadium in the world. The hospitality I got while I was here was unmatched."
"I think everybody's genuine, and I think everyone's eager to get this thing going again. That's what I like, and that's why I'm here." "We're fired up," Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan told CBS 11 in Dallas on Wednesday. "He's a great guy. We loved him on tape. We got the right corner."
Orton will be considered one of the better backups in the league next season. And that’s a big change for the Cowboys.
The Dallas Cowboys began free agency with a shopping list of needs. Two days into the signing period, they began checking them off.
- Starting cornerback. Check.
- Offensive guard. Check.
- Fullback. Check.
- Backup quarterback. Check.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wasn't exaggerating when he said his team would be "active" in free agency.