The Dallas Cowboys prefer to build through the NFL Draft. Time and time again, offseason after offseason, there are those who expect (hope really) for things to change. Nobody is saying that they want to see the Cowboys act irresponsibly in other team-building avenues like free agency, but since they are existing options to improve your team it would be nice to see the team use them to a larger degree.
Death, taxes, and banking on the draft, though. The Cowboys have operated this way for some time and don’t seem in any hurry to change it.
Stephen Jones offered his explanation on why the Dallas Cowboys are not active in free agency
Many have wanted to hear exactly why the Cowboys are content with this line of thinking, and those people have seemingly gotten their wish.
In an appearance on the PFTPM podcast with Mike Florio, Stephen Jones discussed a variety of things involving the Cowboys following the draft. Jones was specifically asked about the team’s lack of involvement in free agency and offered up a long explanation as to why Dallas operates the way that they do.
Mike Florio: “Why do you think there hasn’t been more aggressive efforts in recent years by the Cowboys to go out and get free agents with big contracts? I know instead you’ve been giving out big contracts to some of your own guys that you draft and develop, but why not the push to spend the money on the open market to the guys who become available every March?”
Stephen Jones: “Well we just feel like if you have, we feel like our players are the better players out there, then that’s who we’d like to spend on. You know ‘em, there’s no surprises, and feel like if you can grow, get your homegrown players we feel like that’s where we’ve been the most successful.”
“Now the flip side of that is where’s the Super Bowl to show for it, but at the same time some of the players that we have, we made a trade for Amari and kept Amari around here for three or four years. We’re not opposed to it, but it does have to be the right player for us to either go out and make a trade or pay that player in free agency. I’m a big advocate that free agency is an inflated situation in terms of going out to get these players.”
“Now trading for ‘em a lot of times you can get into a contract that’s more affordable or not as much, but certainly when you’re in a bidding war out there which we certainly had that situation with a Randy Gregory where we were trying to keep him, obviously other teams were wanting him and the number kept going up and we ultimately made a tough decision.”
“But we are, I’ll be the first to say it, that we like to really focus on the draft, have successful drafts, and hopefully that gives you your own homegrown players that you can pay. This year was a little different for us in that we, because of the pandemic it was tough to project how long it was going to last and what effects it would have on the salary cap. So we ended up having more free agents than we normally would like to have because of the unknown.”
“Certainly we feel like we’re going to get back in the mix of getting some of these players, these young players that we want to keep around here, get ahead of it, get ‘em signed, so you don’t have that type of free agency risk that we had this year.”
It is interesting that Stephen referred to the trade for Amari Cooper when asked about free agency. Player acquisition can obviously happen in a number of ways and the Cowboys did wind up paying Cooper before trading him away, but that was not a true and classic free agent signing.
Stephen also noted that the pandemic impacted the way that they viewed things in terms of fluctuation in the salary cap. Many Cowboys fans wondered why Dallas allowed a situation to unfold this offseason where Randy Gregory, Michael Gallup, and Dalton Schultz were all on expiring deals at the same time, and Stephen sort of noted how that was something that he feels was a part of the reaction to the pandemic and how it impacted the salary cap.
Following that, Stephen mentioned that they do want to get back in the business of getting ahead of certain deals. The Cowboys have a few players on the final year of their current contracts so they could ‘get ahead’ there, but they will also be an interesting position next offseason when they can pay the likes of CeeDee Lamb, Trevon Diggs, and even Terence Steele.