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Cowboys free agency looking good so far

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AdamJT13 posts over at the CowboysZone Forum, usually about the salary cap and the guy is always money about the money. Here's what he says about our latest signings.

Owens' contract came in just as reported -- a $5 million signing bonus, a $5 million salary for 2006, a $5 million salary and $3 million roster bonus in 2007, and a $4 million salary and $3 million roster bonus in 2008. Including his standard workout bonus, his cap number this season is $6,671,946.

Fabini's deal is three years for $4.5 million. He got a signing bonus of $1.75 million, with salaries of $750,000, $1 million and $1 million. He has escalator clauses that could raise his salaries for 2007 and 2008. Including his standard workout bonus, his cap number this season is $1,338,613.

Hannam's contract is four years for $5 million. He got a signing bonus of $1.25 million. His base salaries are $585,000, $750,000, $1.1 million and $1.315 million. Including his standard workout bonus, his cap number this season is $902,780.

Boiman's contract is three years for $3.25 million. He got a signing bonus of $1 million, with base salaries of $600,000, $750,000 and $900,000. He has escalator clauses that could raise his salaries for 2007 and 2008. Including his standard workout bonus, his cap number this season is $938,613.

After those signings, after releasing Larry Allen, and after adding in workout bonuses for every player on the roster, we're about $14.58 million under the cap.

$14 million under the cap? Way to go Jerry Jones! We still have plenty of money for a kicker, and we could go after another FA or wait until June cuts, or August cuts. We got the rookie class covered, and most importantly, we have room to work out new deals with some of our young stars, like Jason Witten, Roy Williams, etc.

We've added six free agents at very reasonable prices, excepting Owens, who was costly but his skills are equal to the dollar value. In addition, we've gotten younger as a team, only Fabini is older than the guy he's replacing. Jerry and Bill are stocking up on linebackers who are crucial to the 3-4 defense, and are creating a draft scenario where we can take the best available player, even in the first round. It might be the best available player in a few areas of need, but that's a whole lot better than having to draft a RT or an OLB.  Remeber, Al Singleton, Kevin Burnett, heck, maybe even Kalen Thornton might be the starting OLB this year.

All that is nice, but have we improved the team? There's the rub; signing a bunch of free agents and still remaining way under the cap is just chasing your tail unless the team is better. So let's take a look.

Keyshawn Johnson vs. Terrell Owens - There's not much doubt here; Owens is the superior player, simply because he brings the home-run threat to every play, forcing the defense to compensate. Dallas now has a true #1 receiver, and when Terry Glenn is your #2, that's a WR corps that has explosive potential. Owens is one of the top 5 playmakers in the game today; his presence elevates the whole Dallas offense.

Edge: Owens, by a large margin

Side-note: I'll have to write a lot about Owens in the upcoming months, and I hope most of it is about his football skills. So understand everything I write concerning Terrell is with the understanding that it could all go horribly wrong at any time. But I don't want to have to write that in every article, so when I evaluate Owens in terms of helping the Cowboys, I'm strictly talking football and taking the best view on it until something happens that we can't ignore.

Larry Allen vs. Kyle Kosier - This one is tough to call; Allen was one of the most dominant linemen to ever play the game, but the fact is he wasn't the same Larry Allen the last few years. His conditioning and age played a factor, but even though he'd lost a step, he still was an OK guard. Kyle Kosier is not so easily classified. He's versatile, and has started a lot of NFL games, but most of the lines he played on weren't very good. On the plus side, quite a few teams wanted his services, so NFL guys must have a positive opinion of his skills. He also has that one tangible that all teams covet; he's young with potential upside.

Edge: Push, since I haven't seen enough of Kosier to really know.

Dat Nguyen vs. Akin Ayodele (assuming Ayodele takes over Nguyen's WILB spot) - Dat Nguyen was a hell of a linebacker. Fast, but undersized, he played with a heart bigger that his body. He usually led the team in tackles and was the QB of the defense, calling the alignments and deciphering plays before they even snapped the ball. You can't overlook his worth to the Cowboys. But, and there's always a but, Dat's size was a problem in the 3-4. Injuries started taking their toll forcing Dat to retire. Ayodele on the other hand is big, experienced, young, has upside, and is coming off four straight seasons of 100+ tackles (at least according to some sources). Ayodele doesn't have Nguyen's track record or name recognition, but that shouldn't stop him from seamlessly taking over for Dat.

Edge: Ayodele, younger and better suited to play on the inside in a 3-4 scheme

Rob Petitti vs., Jason Fabini - There's not much to say here. Petitti clearly wasn't ready to start at tackle last year so depending on him to be ready this year just wasn't in the cards. Fabini is coming off his first major injury and is past that magic line of 30 years old, but I have no doubt he can improve upon Petitti's performance from last year.

Edge: Fabini, there's no way he doesn't improve on Petitti's performance

Dan Campbell vs. Ryan Hannam - By reputation Dan Campbell is one of the better blocking TE's in the NFL, but he's also crossing the 30-year-old line and has had some injury problems while with us. Hannam is an unknown to me, so I can't say much except that he's young but also experienced. Still, it's hard to imagine he's any better than Campbell, just cheaper.

Edge: Campbell, leadership and blocking skills will be missed

Rocky Boiman vs. nobody - Sounds like he's here to be a backup at OLB and help on special teams, something we could surely use.

So the answer is yes, the Cowboys have improved themselves through free agency, though a few holes have yet to be filled. We all assume a kicker is coming, we will be trying to upgrade the FS position and we could use a backup NT to replace La'Roi Glover - unless Parcells thinks Pepper Johnson is up to the task.

The Cowboys are significantly younger, have cap room to spare, and have upgraded the personnel. So far, that's a pretty good offseason. That is, unless you're worried about selling your soul to do it, and I'm pretty sure Jerry Jones isn't.