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One study shows the Cowboys approach to free agency might be extremely incorrect

If you’re upset about the way the Cowboys are treating free agency, you might have company.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys-Training Camp Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday night one of the best content creators in the business, Cameron Magruder, did what he does best. He put together a Cowboys-related reaction video.

You’ve likely seen Scooter (as he’s more well-known) in videos following Cowboys games. He does a great job of capturing exactly what Cowboys fans were feeling at a specific moment in time and highlighting it in a video for many to enjoy. He recapped the first week of free agency in incredible fashion.

Scooter can be heard moaning about how the Cowboys aren’t doing anything in free agency. Sure they’ve brought back some role players, and they finally got feisty by bringing in Christian Covington, but generally the first week of the new year was pretty stale for America’s Team.

This is who they are, though. The identity of the Cowboys over the last few years has been to exercise discipline and patience when it comes to the talent-acquiring period that is free agency. They pay their own guys and generally are in contention (three division titles in five years is something to be proud of). What if they should be doing something totally different?

One study shows that sitting in free agency might be the wrong thing to do

Even though SI discovered that Dallas is the most-desired place for free agents to end up, only Codey McElroy and the aforementioned Covington have joined the team from the outside so far. Dallas is among the low end of the NFL when it comes to outside free agents added, a badge of honor that they wear as far as their philosophy.

On Friday ForTheWin published an interesting study that took a look at the benefits of a team paying its own players that need new contracts versus paying outside free agents. Conventional wisdom has generally said that outsourcing talent is only for the desperate teams and that “good ones” don’t do that sort of thing. Hello, old school Green Bay Packers.

The crux of this study if a metric designed by FTW known as Value Above Market Price. There’s a lot of math that goes into this, but it’s objectively-derived so certainly interesting to consider.

The goal of Value Above Market Price (VAMP) is to measure how much a player is being paid for his production by a team compared to the league-wide market rate for his position.

When using this tool to look at how teams pay current and new players, FTW discovered that bringing in outside free agents actually isn’t taboo. It theoretically makes more sense.

On average, NFL teams are overpaying homegrown vets by $2.37 million. Free agent acquisitions are being overpaid by $1.19 million. Second contracts, in general, return less value — the market is no longer capped. So both numbers are negative, but there’s a wide spread between the two that favors signing free agents above re-signing your own players.

The Cowboys have already brought back Darian Thompson, Justin March-Lillard, Daniel Ross, Jamize Olawale, Cameron Fleming, and Tavon Austin (plus a few others who’s options they picked up). It is fair to assume some of them might not necessarily deliver on a VAMP level or even a conventional one to the point that would justify their new contracts in Dallas.

Call it discipline, patience, frugality, or even outright defiance if you want. The Cowboys have shown us time and time again that they are not going to be big players in free agency and that they are going to make their way through the bargain bin once the dust settles. Again, it’s sort of difficult to combat this approach as they’ve generally had success. It certainly does make you wonder though how much more successful they could be if they did show some aggression in acquiring a player of more elite standards.

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