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Cowboys News & Notes: DE Chris Long, S Eric Weddle, DL Jack Crawford Still On Cowboys Shopping List

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The Cowboys aren't done yet in free agency, even if they've done underrated work in retaining their own free agents.

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DE Chris Long expected to visit Cowboys next week - David Moore, SportsDay
Free agent Chris Long has informed the Cowboys that he wants to visit and is expected to do so next week, a source told David Moore.

No firm date has been set, but the Cowboys have a definite interest in the defensive end.

The Cowboys also have interest in re-signing unrestricted free agent defensive lineman Jack Crawford. The 27-year-old played in all 16 games last season, recording a career-high four sacks.

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The Cowboys outlined their plans for free agency at the NFL Combine when Stephen Jones told reporters that the team was unlikely to be a big spender in free agency, instead focusing on retaining their own free agents.

To the great surprise of the majority of Cowboys social media traffic, that is exactly what happened. Here's Stephen Jones laying out:

"I’m not a big fan of free agency; I’ll be the first to admit it," Jones told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine. "Unfortunately, good players get paid like they’re great players, average players get paid like they’re good players and it’s a domino effect. It’s not a great way to put your team together."

"Obviously you’d like to build your team through the draft and keep your players that hopefully you drafted well and keep those type of players so we’re not out there in free agency."

Here's an overview of the moves they made so far this week:

Cowboys Free Agent Activity Overview
Retained Free Agents Contract Acquired Free Agents Contract
TE James Hanna 3 years, $8.5 million DT Cedric Thornton 4-years, $17 million
LB Kyle Wilber 2 years, $3.5 million
ILB Rolando McClain 1 year, $4 million
CB Morris Caliborne 1 year, $3 million
OG Ronald Leary 1 year, $2.553 million tender
S Jeff Heath 1 year, $1.671 million tender
CB Josh Thomas 1 year contract
OT Charles Brown 1 year contract, $0.76 million

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Why Cowboys Nation shouldn't panic just because NFC East rivals are splurging in free agency - Kevin Sherrington, SportsDay
In a chat, Sherrington was asked whether there was reason for concern that the Cowboys seem to be taking a slower pace than other teams at picking people up?

Kevin Sherrington: Stephen Jones has said he's not a big FA fan, and I agree with him. You almost always overpay dearly, and in a league where you have a salary cap, that's a problem.

Cowboys approach shouldn't surprise - Todd Archer, ESPN
The Cowboys made it clear they weren't going to get into the big money game, Archer explains in his latest Twitter mailbag.

Nothing the Cowboys have done or not done in free agency should be surprising. This is what they have told us they were going to do. They were not going to get into the big money game. It’s easy to say Lamar Miller's deal with the Houston Texans isn’t breaking the bank, but to the Cowboys it is for a running back. They let it be known how far they would be willing to go on a back last year when they offered DeMarco Murray four years, $24 million and $12 million guaranteed. They loved him and wouldn’t cross it. They’re not going to do that for a stranger. I wasn’t a Miller guy in free agency. I would’ve rather them gone after Matt Forte on a short-term deal. Now, however, I think you will see them look at a runner early in the draft to play with Darren McFadden and potentially supplant McFadden.

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Versatile Tight End James Hanna Also Returning To Cowboys With New Deal - Rob Phillips, Dallas Cowboys
Hanna caused a little bit of a stir when he visited the Chargers earlier this week, but the Cowboys reacted quickly and kept him in Dallas with a three-year deal.

The Cowboys value Hanna’s versatility and his blocking in the run game. They also needed to address depth at tight end, with Gavin Escobar spending the offseason recovering from the torn Achilles tendon he suffered in a Dec. 19 loss to the New York Jets. Geoff Swaim, a seventh-round pick a year ago, is also under contract as a reserve.

Cowboys make underrated move in keeping James Hanna - Todd Archer, ESPN
Keeping Hanna was a smart move, Archer explains.

Hanna came to the Cowboys in 2012 in the sixth round as a receiving tight end out of Oklahoma with 4.4-second speed in the 40-yard dash. He has developed into a capable blocker as well as one of the Cowboys' better special teamers.

Considering how much the Cowboys like to use two-tight end sets, keeping him was a smart move and one that will probably be overlooked by many.

Cowboys Bring Back Versatile LB Kyle Wilber On Two-Year Contract - David Helman, Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys continued their trend of retaining their own players on Friday, as they signed linebacker Kyle Wilber to a two-year contract.

The four-year veteran is also one of the Cowboys’ top special teamers, as he finished tied for the team lead in special teams tackles with nine. He also contributed to one of the top special teams plays of last season, as he recovered Danny McCray’s blocked punt for a touchdown during the Cowboys’ 20-10 win against Philadelphia in Week 2.

Cowboys bringing back Claiborne on 1-year deal - Shuyler Dixon, Associated Press
Claiborne is returning to Dallas on a team-friendly deal after the Cowboys declined the more expensive fifth-year option on Claiborne's contract.

Claiborne agreed Friday to a contract worth up to $3.75 million, about $8 million less than the fifth-year option of his rookie deal.

Dallas Cowboys re-sign swing tackle Charles Brown to one-year deal - Brandon George, SportsDay
The Dallas Cowboys re-signed swing tackle Charles Brown to a one-year deal Friday. Brown was the primary swing tackle last year.

Brown (6-5, 300) was a second-round pick (No. 64 overall) by the New Orleans Saints in 2010 out of Southern California. He'll play in his seventh NFL season in 2016. Last season was his first with the Cowboys.

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What the Cowboys are getting in defensive lineman Cedric Thornton? - David Moore, SportsDay
Moore offers an assessment of the Thornton signing that's not going to sit well with those who've made up their mind that the Cowboys must draft a defensive tackle.

Thornton's presence frees the Cowboys from the need to take a player at that position in the first two days of the draft and allows them to concentrate on other positions. It allows them to draft a player who holds more positional value in their system at a lesser cost than would happen in free agency.

Why Cowboys made a good bargain move stealing a run-stopper from the Eagles - Bob Sturm, SportsDay
Sturm looked at 2015 tape on Thornton to figure out what the Cowboys saw that inspired them to strike at what could be a bargain in free agency.

He is not a world beater, but exactly the type of bargain shopping you want this time of year. At his price of about $4 million a season, the Cowboys plugged a hole they have had for several seasons with a nice upgrade. I like this deal quite a bit.

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NFL Awards Four Compensatory Picks, Including Fourth-Rounder in 2016 - Nick Eatman, Dallas Cowboys
As we had predicted in early January, the Cowboys ended up with one extra fourth rounder and three extra sixth rounders. Here's a summary of all nine Cowboys picks from the mothership (though that 101st pick is in the fourth round, regardless what the image below says):

Why Jerry Jones' belief in Tony Romo's longevity shouldn't be dismissed - Kevin Sherrington, SportsDay
Sherrington offers some perspective on the whole discussion about Romo's health.

When Jerry says Tony could play another five years, I get that. His physical ability doesn't seem diminished when he's healthy, not anything like Manning at the end. What everyone questions is whether he can remain upright. We should remember that despite all the breaks, Romo's played an awful lot of games the five years, so in some ways, last year was an anomaly.

Which last-place NFL team will rebound the biggest? - Kenneth Arthur, SportsOnEarth
SportsOnEarth ranks the likeliest rebound candidates for next season, and the Cowboys top their list. Here's part of the reason why:

With presumably healthy seasons from Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, a rebound from the best offensive line in football, and making the right choice with the fourth overall pick, the Cowboys most definitely can win the division next year. When you think about how overrated Washington was last year, how messed up everything seems to be in Philadelphia, and the chaotic nature of the Giants, it actually seems like Dallas should be the favorite.

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Broncos trying to re-work deal for ex-Cowboy DeMarcus Ware - SportsDay Staff
The Broncos have to reach a deal with Ware by Monday, March 14th, as that's when a $3 million roster bonus is due for Ware. Ware will count more than $11 million against Denver's salary cap this season and the team is trying to get him to accept a lower deal. If that doesn't work, Ware could be released, though it's unlikely he'd land in Dallas given his likely asking price. Ware turns 34 this offseason.