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NFL Free Agency '10: Good Country for Old Men

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Take a good look at this list of the top-50 free agents, on the eve of the market's opening tonight.

You notice how many old guys are on this list?  The uncapped season has extended a team's ability to tender restricted free agents.  Guys like Stephen Bowen and Sam Hurd are role players, and would be hitting the market tonight.  In the current uncapped mode, the Cowboys are able to give them second round tenders and keep them on the roster.  There's no cap harm -- tenders last one year, and with no salary cap, overpaying a bit doesn't matter.

The NFL has tied up what would be the meat of this year's crop, the marginal players who might be on the verge of becoming starters. 

As a consequence, we're looking at the aged, those who carry bad contracts or both.

Let's consider offensive line.  There are only five o-linemen on the top-50 list.  All are over 30.  None could make a strong case that they would beat out the incumbents on the Cowboys' also-aged line.

There are some interesting prospets at the top of the heap.  Karlos Dansby is a player, and could work inside, but would you shove Keith Brooking out the door after his big season and block Jason Williams' development?  Landing Dansby would also require outbidding a host of other suitors who have money to spend and few younger prospects to court.

The same conditions apply to safety.  Ryan Clark is available, but he plays strong safety.  Would he represent a big enough upgrade over Gerald Sensabaugh to justify a fat, long-term deal?  Ditto for Antrel Rolle.  He wants to be paid $8 million a year.  In this shallow talent pool, somebody might give it to him.  I doubt the Cowboys are that team.

After poring over this list, its no surprise to me that the Cowboys claim they're sitting out the early days of free agency.