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First Wave Of Free Agency Goes As Expected For Cowboys

You know the drill from recent offseasons. Don’t expect much in the beginning of free agency.

Super Bowl LI - New England Patriots v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

3:59 PM rolled around on Thursday and with it the fans of teams in 32 NFL cities were glued to media outlets looking for the big announcement of a signing that will take their franchise to the next level. It happens every year, and Dallas Cowboys fans are not immune to the symptoms of ‘splash signingitis’ anymore than other fans.

Over the years, team owner Jerry Jones has delivered some big names to the team with his willingness to spend a few bucks to insure that the franchise has plenty of star power on hand. Sometimes it pays off with a guy who makes a roster complete. More often it turns out to be something of a fizzle.

Therein lies the lesson for how the Cowboys do business today.

Rarely in professional football are champions built through the cattle auction that is free agency. More often, and this includes the Cowboys of the 1990s, the backbone of the team comes from the draft. Winners build around their own and augment as needed through free agency. That lesson has sunk in around Valley Ranch and later the Star.

Jerry Jones is no longer the free spending owner standing on the street corner with an open wallet soliciting aging veteran players. The brain trust in Dallas has been taking a less aggressive approach in recent years. The game has changed for the Cowboys and it looks like it will continue in 2017.

The current philosophy in Dallas is somewhat akin to going fishing. You can have a good trip and reel in enough fish for a good meal or you can hope for that record breaking catch. The team would rather sit down for dinner than have a wall-hanger, and the boss agrees with this school of thought.

"I accept that. That doesn't bother me because everybody's playing by the same rules and this is the life we've chosen. don't get mad at it. I get competitive about it. I get frustrated when one doesn't work for us, when we make a decision that we'd like to have back. But I don't get mad at it.” - Jerry Jones

Reading into the Jerry-speak, the Cowboys owner still likes the attention that comes from the big deal, but he also understands that the odds of those big deals paying off are at best 50/50. They are big when they pay off, but man they hurt when they flop.

The odds are really no better with the under-the-radar signings, but the losses are not as big. It is easier to project a player as filling a role than it is to project one as carrying the team. You still miss quite a bit, but nobody really notes the down roster guy that suddenly gets released when somebody better comes along. It is just a part of life in the NFL.

That is why the Cowboys will look to address roles that need to be filled over the next few days. They have a good opportunity to find talent that can fill those needs and do so at reasonable prices.

They will not be looking for the ‘war daddy’ that Jones recently spoke of. Those players don’t come cheap, and they are not a good investment in most cases. A few years back the Cowboys would be all in on finding such a player, but they don’t do business that way any more.

Free agency in the Will McClay - Jason Garrett era is about finding the good deal and then making the move. It is about getting better role players than what they had last year, not bringing in the mercenary that is going to sway the battle.

Little to nothing was expected as far as the Cowboys making a move. Dallas will take care of business in their own time, they will get guys that they are comfortable with, and who can provide the much needed little extras that every team needs to be successful.

It will not be the ‘sexy’ free agency of old, but with McClay and Garrett on the same page philosophically, the results will be attractive enough. The Cowboys will bide their time and when they find a bargain they like a move will be made.

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