For years, June 1 was an important date for NFL teams, because after June 1, unrestricted free agents signed by other teams didn't count against a team's compensatory draft-pick formula. Starting in 2015, that date has been moved from June 1 to early May, and this year that date was Tuesday, May 9.
The move was made to incentivize teams to sign veteran free agents shortly after the NFL draft instead of waiting until shortly before camp, as many teams had done in the past. The thinking was that those veterans would then be able to participate in a team's OTAs and offseason program instead of sitting on their couch and waiting for a call in July or August.
For the Cowboys, the date is significant because they can now sign additional free agents that won't count against the four compensatory draft picks they will get in the 2018 NFL draft.
The Cowboys currently are at the NFL roster limit of 90 players, but the team has repeatedly emphasized that roster building is a year-round activity. Except that there isn't all that much quality available at this time of year. The Cowboys still managed to sign George Selvie (signed Jul 26, 2013), Rolando McClain (acquired in a trade on July 2, 2014), and Justin Durant (signed July 18, 2016) who all provided a welcome, if brief, contribution to the team.
Our own Michael Sisemore looked at five available free agents that could be of interest for the Cowboys. But while free agents like DE Devin Taylor, CB Jason McCourty, OT Ryan Clady, DE Elvis Dumervil, or LB Perry Riley would provide the type of big-name signings many Cowboys fans crave, a look at the players the Cowboys signed in the second wave of free agency last year shows that the Cowboys are unlikely to sign any of those five players. And last year's signings also illustrate just how barren the landscape can be at this time of year:
- May 24: Zach Wood (waived Sept. 1)
- June 8: Brandon Hepburn (waived Sept. 3)
- June 8: Lawrence Okoye (waived Sept. 3)
- June 8: Bryan Witzmann (waived Sept. 3)
- June 13: Isaiah Frey (waived Sept. 3)
- June 13: Dax Swanson (waived Sept. 12)
- July 18: Justin Durant
- July 26: Darryl Baldwin (waived Aug. 4)
- July 26: Cameron Bradfield (placed on IR Aug 15)
- July 30: Darius Eubanks (released Aug 1)
- July 30: Henoc Muamba (waived Aug. 30)
The Cowboys will certainly continue to bring in players to maintain a minimum body count during training camp, but very few of those signings will be expected to survive final roster cuts.
The team is probably still in the market for a veteran backup QB, some extra depth at running back, and they'll likely continue to look for bargains all over the roster, but the list of remaining veterans is slim pickings indeed.
Unless you have a guy you think the Cowboys must absolutely, positively sign. Right now.