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Dallas Cowboys Free Agency: The Cowboys Didn't Whiff On Anyone, They Just Avoided Price Wars

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The Cowboys are getting some guff about their approach to free agency, but what are we really missing here?

Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Free agency comes every year and folks' minds start running with anticipation to see which new players may wind up with the star on their helmets. It doesn't seem to matter that free agency has largely proven to be fool's gold that only leads to large amounts of dead money on the salary cap.

The Dallas Cowboys were 4-12 in 2015 and that's the only result that is on everyone's mind as of late. They have holes all over the roster and something has got to give, am I right? The majority of us have been discussing all offseason how the Cowboys were going to to have to be players in free agency. Well, being a big player in free agency costs quite a bit of money, seemingly money that the Cowboys just weren't willing to spend.

The salary cap increased significantly to $155 million, which meant some teams were able to start dishing out blockbuster deals. As we all saw, those teams certainly did, and the numbers showed more than $1.2 billion was spent in the first two days. Stephen Jones made it clear that he wasn't in the mood to pay 'good' players like 'great' players. When you dissect further, you can certainly see why.

Look at the top two teams that spent the most in free agency; the New York Giants and Jacksonville Jaguars. The Giants spent $193.75 million and the Jaguars were right behind them with $174.3 million. Let's start with New York, who brought in Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, Jason Pierre-Paul, Janoris Jenkins and Keenan Robinson. Out of all of those names, only JPP has ever been named to a Pro Bowl or All-Pro team.

The Jaguars brought in Malik Jackson, Chris Ivory, Tashaun Gipson and Prince Amukamara among their top free agent gets. They did a little better with two of their guys being named to a Pro Bowl. Of course, Pro Bowls and All-Pros aren't everything and Dallas could have certainly used one of these players or two. A Robert Ayers-type would have been nice, wouldn't it? The problem is that the market gets driven so high for even mid-level guys. If players were getting paid what they may actually be worth then perhaps the Cowboys could have been bigger players. Dallas' front office showed they were not willing to get into a bidding war for any player that was on the market. In fact, there wasn't a great market out there of perennial All-Pro rushers that the Cowboys must have anyway.

It's free agency, those types of players just don't get away very often. Those special players tend to be homegrown and retained. That's the whole point of building a roster to begin with, you want to find a way to a consistent winner. Free agency can be an exciting time but, in truth, the very few really great players that test the market are usually over the age of 30. You are never paying a player for what he's going to do for you. Teams wind up paying players for what they did for someone else. Just ask the Philadelphia Eagles, who are one of the top spending teams in free agency over the last decade having spent $600+ million and have a .547 record to show at that time.

The new regime in Philly couldn't wait for the open season as they started undoing all the poor free agent spending of the past including three deals from only a year ago. Their three biggest acquisitions from last season in DeMarco Murray, Byron Maxwell, and Kiko Alonso (technically a trade) are all playing elsewhere in 2016. Free agency is fun, but it's also stressful and expensive. The Washington Redskins have completely flipped from their spending days of the past under new General Manager Scot McCloughan. Now, they are a team getting out of poor contracts and are getting into sound decision making.

It's understandable to be lamenting the lack of movement from the Cowboys. Dallas has a lot of work ahead in order to restore a winning roster. However, looking at all the above-mentioned statistics, can anyone really say they missed out any must-haves? They signed a really solid, underappreciated player in Cedric Thornton, who already looks to make Tyrone Crawford's job easier. They also did a lot of work to re-sign their own players. Again, Dallas is certainly willing to spend and they will undoubtedly bring in a few more free agents. However, they were disciplined enough to avoid any form of a price gouging.

Smart teams build through the draft and cherry-pick through free agency. Teams have to draft well and build around those players to keep a contender and create that consistent winner as the New England Patriots or Green Bay Packers have. It's more important to focus on the 53-man roster, not just the top ten. The Cowboys seem to have figured that part out. They still have openings that must be addressed in free agency, they will not lose sight of that.

The Cowboys are on to something here and they have nine picks to work with in this year's draft. So, they will be able to add some quality contributors throughout that process. They also look to be attempting to add a pass rusher in restricted free agent Benson Mayowa as we speak. They're not done by any means but they reserve the right to be frugal. If all else fails and they believe they're not getting what they need, don't rule out some possible trades like the Patriots have done. Player acquisition is a 365 day a year business and money never sleeps.