The Dallas Cowboys have done either very well or extremely well in free agency, depending on how you look at the acquisition of Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings. Most of the focus has been on the team's own signings so far, for good reason, but it is interesting to note that the activity has been mostly one way. The unsigned free agents from last year have seen almost no one reaching out to them.
I noticed this in an article by Josh Ellis over at the mothership. He pointed out that only two former Cowboys have signed contracts. Laurent Robinson was a player that most of us were sorry to see leave. He is also the only one to have a multi-year deal from his new team. Martellus Bennett only got a one year deal that does not exactly reek of confidence in his ability to help his new team, no matter what Tom Coughlin says.
There is not only a lack of signings for the other Dallas free agents, but an almost total lack of any interest at all.
On Tuesday running back and special teams ace Chauncey Washington was part of a massive tryout for the San Francisco 49ers, per a report. Late last week, the Minnesota Vikings checked in on defensive back Alan Ball, per another report.
As for the bigger names, like Bradie James, Keith Brooking, Terence Newman, Kyle Kosier, Tony Fiammetta, Derrick Dockery, Montrae Holland and Mat McBriar, no substantive interest has come to light.
This kinda sucks for them. But it says a lot about that infamous process we all know and mostly love.
See what I mean on the other side of the jump.
Just as there are two sides to free agency, there are two sides to scouting for free agents. You scout the other teams to find talent you want to bring in. And you scout your own team to see who you don't want to keep around. In this case, it looks like 31 other teams are confirming what the Cowboys have decided about their own players. Specifically, we had a lot of deadwood on the team that needed to be cut out, and the team has largely done just that. Ellis pointed out that 19 total players were left on the open market. That is a lot of clearing out. The fact that other teams are not swooping in and grabbing these guys has to increase the confidence level in the ongoing evaluation process, and makes me, at least, feel a tad better about who the team has kept around.
It is a painful process, especially when it involves once productive players like James, Brooking, Newman and Kosier who gave some good years of their careers to the Star, but it also is the harsh reality of pro football. It is all about what you can do for me now. For too long, there was a legitimate concern about Dallas hanging on to fading players for a season or two too long. This was usually laid at the feet of Jerry Jones and his sometimes excessive loyalty to his players. Whether that is totally accurate or not, this seems to no longer be a part of the way the team is going about its business.
I have a pretty obvious tendency to try and read between the lines in order to figure out the thinking of the coaches and management for the team. In this case, this seems another clear cut bit of evidence that the reins have been fully passed to Jason Garrett. JG5000 is totally able to take a cold, calculating look at his roster and cut loose the players he sees as holding the team back. We saw it at the start of the last year when players like Roy Williams, Marc Colombo, Marion Barber and Leonard Davis were given their walking papers. Now we are seeing it again. While the team may yet re-sign a couple of these players if they see the need for some more depth or additional options, as they did with Kevin Ogletree, the fact that they are currently off the roster shows that the team wants to move on. And any new contract offers are certain to be very minimal. This is just good sense.
I also think that it will be very evident in the coming decisions on the roster. As OCC mentioned in the related article noted above, the team has 58 current players under contract, so obviously there are already several people on the squad that will not make it out of training camp. With a total of 80 players needed to start training camp there are going to be plenty more. But the emphasis seems to have increased on finding as many people who actually will compete for a spot or push the player ahead of them on the depth chart. Even the signing of Kyle Orton as the backup for Tony Romo looks to have included a bit of a calculation that he was good enough to put some pressure on Tony to up his game.
No one should ever feel completely secure on a pro football team. It is a harshly competitive business, and it is very reassuring to see that the team is signalling that every player, from top to bottom, is going to have to prove his worth to the team. It also makes me a little bit excited to see how players like Robert Calloway and Justin Taplin-Ross turn out. These are people who were signed to the team when other, more experienced names were being let go. And based on the way the rest of the league is essentially endorsing the decisions by Dallas, that makes me think that just maybe the Cowboys' Scouting Department has a pretty good handle on things.
Who knows? Maybe there is some good news yet to come from signing Livings and Bernadeau.
Kool Aid tastes so good sometimes.