Well, here we go again.
It’s free agency time, and the Dallas Cowboys are off and running, having already signed a wide receiver to an enormous deal. It’s been reported that Michael Gallup is re-signing with Dallas on a five-year deal worth $62.5 million. Gallup tore his ACL late in the season, so it will be pretty impressive if he’s ready to go by the start of the 2022 season. But this is the strategy Jerry Jones has adopted, and that’s making sure he does what he can to keep his own free agents before jumping into the pool after those from other franchises.
The Cowboys haven’t signed a big-time free agent since they got burned by cornerback Brandon Carr for $50 million over five years back in 2012. Coming from Kansas City, Carr was supposed to be that “shutdown” corner the ‘boys had been missing since Deion Sanders. Not on that level, of course, but a guy they could put on an island, and he’d hold his own against top receivers across the league. Well, that didn’t happen, and since then, it feels like Jerry’s been skittish about bringing in new guys on these huge long-term deals.
So, because of the Carr signing, in large part, Jones has gone the opposite way in recent years and really only seems to throw big money at his own soon-to-be free agents. Whether we feel they deserve it or not, that’s Jerry’s MO. Regardless, it feels like Jones is usually going to find a way to muck up free agency. It’s almost inevitable at this point.
Jones and the Cowboys somehow entrenched themselves in a two-year battle with Dak Prescott over a new contract. Because of this, Prescott is now a $40 million per year quarterback on average salary. A whopping $75 million was paid out in the first year. Jones decided to give Ezekiel Elliot a massive payday in 2019 before extending Prescott. Six years and $90 million for a running back that’s in decline is one hell of a pill to swallow. But for whatever reason, Jerry just has to have Zeke around even though he isn’t even the best running back on the team anymore.
Just last week, Jones traded away Amari Cooper (which I had no issues with) to free up cap space, then immediately turned around to re-sign a wide receiver that probably won’t be ready to play in Week 1. That’s some good ‘ol Jerry Jones logic for ya there. Sure, you’re still saving a little money on the Gallup deal, but he won’t be ready to play for months. This means no OTAs or training camp for Gallup.
I’m not saying Jones hasn’t hit on some free agents; it’s just been a while. Aldon Smith seemed like he would be great for the Cowboys early on during the 2020 season, but having not played football in nearly five years eventually caught up with him and ultimately deemed that signing a failure. Terrell Owens was great in Big D until he wasn’t and played a big hand in Bill Parcells stepping away from the Cowboys. Names like Sanders, La’Roi Glover, and Leonard Davis are signings we can look to that worked out, but those have been so long ago they hardly register anymore. Jones also gladly signed Greg Hardy after Carolina passed on re-signing him because he’d allegedly assaulted his girlfriend. That one didn’t work out too well either, Dallas. Knowing this, no one should be surprised at the recent cheerleader scandal and Jones’ alleged love child.
So, I guess it’s understandable why Jones has relied so heavily on the draft lately. If you can’t seem to sign the right free agents from other teams, then focus on new blood and home-grown talent. With the Rams going all-in on winning now and trading away all their first-round draft picks over the past few years, more teams will be following this blueprint since it led them to a Super Bowl victory. As bad as Jerry wants to win another Lombardi trophy, I’m surprised Dallas hasn’t done something similar to that. Jones says he’ll do anything to win, but that seems to include everything except make the right moves when signing players. No matter how you look at it, none of Jones’ moves have resulted in helping the team get past the divisional round of the postseason in over 25 years.