A lot of fans are worried. Worried that Dez Bryant hasn't been signed yet. Worried that DeMarco Murray hasn't been signed yet. We see rumors and allegations, we see talking heads discuss the issue without pause. And it makes us worry, and ask "what in the world is going on?" Well take heart Dallas fans. If history is any indication, there's no rush to getting a deal done with any of our star players; in fact it would be pretty strange if one were to happen right now.
A quick perusal through Dallas's transaction history shows an interesting fact. Dallas just does not do business in the month of February. Since 2010 here are all the roster transactions that have occurred in the year's second month:
2013: L.P. Ladacouer signed to a five year extension; Nick Hayden and Charlie Bryant signed to reserve/future contracts.
2014: Released DE Everette Brown, G Ray Dominguez, DT Corvey Irvin and G Jeff Olson.
2015: Signed LB Cameron Lawrence, DT Davon Coleman, signed G Ronald Leary, OT Darrion Weems, released LB Mister Alexander, signed P Tom Hornsey.
That's not exactly a list of earth-shattering deals. Going all the way back to 2002 I could really only find two roster moves that concerned "stars" that happened in February. In 2005 Dallas signed Drew Bledsoe and in 2003 Dallas released Emmitt Smith. After that the biggest moves were signing two interior linemen; Andre Gurode back in 2007, and Ron Leary this year.
It's just the way it is with the Cowboys. If a deal doesn't get done during the season, they seem more than content to wait until free agency starts in March before they revisit it. That doesn't mean that negotiations aren't happening, or that the two sides aren't communicating, it just means that Dallas has a preferred method of doing things that doesn't include big signings in February.
A good example of this occurred in 2013 when Tony Romo signed a six-year contract extension. You had better believe that a contract of that magnitude had been in the works for a while. But the contract wasn't signed until March 30th. The biggest contract in decades, but it didn't occur until after the Cowboys had signed Phil Costa, Nick Hayden, Will Allen, and Justin Durant.
What's It Mean?
There is a method to the Cowboys madness. Looking at past years a pattern emerges. January is when the team puts its coaching staff in place. February is a dead month, reserved for smaller signings, and for cuts needed to clear salary cap space for free agency. March of course is when free agency begins, and is subject in part to the whims of the players. But at least in the Jason Garrett era, (2011-2015), we can see a sort of pattern. The team looks to sign its own free agents early, (in 2011 contracts were tendered to Doug Free, Stephen Bowen, Jason Hatcher and Alan Ball on the 1st), then the 'Boys have a cooling off period before signing second-tier free agents. The earliest outside free agent signing in the Garrett era happened on March 12, 2014, a good four days after free agency started.
After free agency the Cowboys will look at contract extensions for current players. You may see some small signing or cut after that, but nothing major happens between contract extensions at the end of free agency, and the signing of draft picks during the summer.
In other words Cowboys faithful, relax. There is a reason Dez and DeMarco haven't signed contracts yet, and it has nothing to do with videos, or the front office playing mind games, or Adrian Peterson. The reason is because it's February, and the Cowboys don't conduct major business in February. That's a hard pill to swallow in a world of 24-hour updates and instant gratification I know. But it's the plain and simple truth.