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The VRR: Cowboys 2009 Rookie Class is Almost Signed

The Cowboys have signed three more rookies to contracts: linebacker Brandon Williams, kicker David Buehler, and safety Mike Hamlin. The players agreed to  four-year contracts, which should reflect the following base salaries for rookies:

Without a first- or second-round pick in this year's class, the Cowboys' rookies likely will sign four-year deals with minimum base salaries of $310,000 (2009), $395,000 (2010), $480,000 (2011) and $565,000 (2012). The difference, of course, is each player's signing bonus money, which will vary based on their draft positions.

The Cowboys received a $4,639,193 rookie pool to sign their picks. A little more than $16,000 was used for rookie free-agent signing bonuses.

The team is still working on signing linebacker Jason Williams and quarterback Stephen McGee. They are both expected to agree soon and will be participating in training camp.

Offensive lineman Robert Brewster is also expected to sign, but the complications from his shoulder injury and torn pectoral muscle will likely end his season.

More VRR after the jump.

Quarterbacks dominate TSN's list, "10-Pack: These players should feel the heat in '09." They rank Tony Romo at number two just behind LaDainian Tomlinson.

The Cowboys have admitted they cut receiver Terrell Owens in order to clear out the primary impediment to Romo's genuine leadership.

If Romo were a genuine leader, he would have found a way to get Owens under control.

Romo, who was undrafted and who has achieved more than he or anyone else ever dreamed possible, seems to be content with his level of success.

He'd better find a way to raise his threshold for contentment in 2009. With Owens gone, so are the excuses. Romo needs to take the team to the playoffs, and he needs to win at least one game when he gets there.

Otherwise, Romo could be done in Dallas. Sure, owner Jerry Jones will say he fully intends to keep Romo, no matter how bad it gets. After all, that's what Jones said about T.O.

Ray Buck at the Star-T compares the quarterback position of the Dallas Cowboys with other "hot seat" positions in sports.

Guys who made it famous: Dandy Don Meredith, Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman.

Others who showed: Craig Morton and Danny White never get enough credit. Ditto for Li’l Eddie LeBaron, who allowed Tom Landry to line up his 1960 expansion team and get off a snap. Gary Hogeboom, Steve Pelluer, Chad Hutchinson and Quincy Carter, so to speak, all fell off the wagon, along with a few easy-to-forget names following Aikman.

Current job holder: Tony Romo

Comment: This entry appears No. 1 on the list because maybe it is. It doesn’t matter if the Cowboys are contenders, or pretenders, the QB spot gets a ton of sizzle. Faithful Cowboys fans know that 12 years have passed since the team won a playoff game. Serious Cowboys fans know that Romo is 0-3, including last year’s no-go.

ESPN's most recent power rankings have Dallas at number 14.

Hat tip to BK Arsonist.

Timmy Mac asked Bill Barnwell from the Football Outsiders five data-driven questions about what we can expect from the 2009 Cowboys. His answer about Terence Newman's durability should help us all sleep better this fall.

You made a compelling case in the book about the drastic difference a healthy Terence Newman makes for the Dallas defense. He'll be 31 by the season opener and has been hobbled the last two years. What are the odds that he can stay healthy this season?

- We're not at the point yet where we can say that a particular player has, say, a 75 percent chance of playing 16 games, but there's reason to believe that Newman should be able to make it through a full season as the Cowboys' starter. It's not like he's Chad Pennington; Newman made it through the first 64 starts of his career without missing a game, and there's every reason to believe that the surgery he during last season cleared up the groin issues he was facing.

If Newman plays like he did after he returned from his groin injury last year, the Cowboys would go from a good pass defense to a great one.

Some players have already voiced their concern about the turf at the Alamodome.

For all of the benefits the Cowboys gain from spending three weeks in the Alamo City — its proximity to Dallas, the air-conditioned Alamodome, the abundance of adoring fans — there's a negative (Patrick) Crayton says can't be ignored.

Practice on a turf field.

"It beats your knees up, man, wears them down," Crayton said last month at minicamp.

Other players echoed Crayton's thoughts on returning to San Antonio, where the club also trained in 2002, 2003 and 2007. Dallas practiced outdoors last year in Oxnard, Calif., on natural grass.

"That's really the only con about San Antonio," linebacker Bradie James said of the dome's turf.

Here is a schedule breakdown and some general tips for attending training camp.

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