Once upon a time, the Dallas Cowboys were big free donors. I mean great players in the free agency game. In 1995, Ole Jerry Jones, owner / general manager of Cowboys, a free agent and one day Hall of Famer, signed Deion Sanders on a five-year contract for $ 30 million to play back defensively, return kicks, and even play as wide Receiver.
At the time, it was considered a big deal to sign Sanders on such a large contract (with a $ 12 million signing bonus). Critics groaned about how the Dallas Cowboys mortgaged their future on a non-quarterback position.
Additionally, Jerry had just signed a sponsorship deal with Nike, so not only did Jerry have the means to afford Sander’s service, but Jerry had outbid Sander’s former team, the San Francisco 49ers. Signing Sanders on a massive deal was a big deal for Jerry as the Cowboys and 49ers were fierce rivals and the Cowboys suffered an emotional loss against the 49ers in the 1994 NFC championship game.
The Dallas Cowboys must give up their bargain hunting strategy in free hands
By signing Sanders, the Dallas Cowboys had shifted power in the NFC. And Sanders’ expensive signing was well worth it, as the Cowboys would eventually win their third Super Bowl in four years.
Those days are long gone and will never return as the Dallas Cowboys are no longer big funders in the free agency giveaway, regardless of how much Jerry and Stephen claim they want to win a Super Bowl. The Dallas Cowboys are bargain hunters in the free agency and it is clearly against the purpose of this franchise to ever win anything other than the occasional playoff game.
Stephen, the man I affectionately call “cheap,” is the complete opposite of Jerry when it comes to paying top dollar for Elite Free Agents. In Jerry’s favor, he was willing to pay for a game changer like Sanders because he saw the rewards in his investment: a Super Bowl ring and other great games made for the Cowboys.
Until Stephen and Jerry stop looking for their free agents at Goodwill, the Dallas Cowboys won’t become competitors
Stephen, on the other hand, buys winter jackets for players like my late grandfather – in the Goodwill Thrifty Store. Those who have shopped at thrift stores know that sometimes you are lucky and find treasure in someone’s trash, but most of the time you have something out of date that is out of date and unfortunately smells strange.
For example, in 2020 Stephen signed free agents, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe, Everson Griffen, Darian Thompson, Maurice Canady, Kai Forbath, and several others. This group of freelance agents was either solid at best or had seen their prime and was on the flip side of their careers.
Clinton-Dix was supposed to shut down the safety position, but was cut before the start of the season. Poe was cut, Griffen traded for a sixth rounder for the Detroit Lions, and McCoy was cut with an injury at the end of the season. Six-time pro bowler McCoy was the cream of the class and should be a versatile mid-Dallas veteran so badly needed. He was injured in the first training session.
Paying mid-level talent and expecting Pro Bowl results is a delusion. It’s like financial planning with lottery tickets. Subpar talent won’t win you many games.
Signing great free agents can literally change a team from mediocre to elite overnight, especially defense. For example, the Green Bay Packers have signed free agent linebackers Preston Smith, Za’Darius Smith and Safety Adrian Amos, effectively turning their team into competitors overnight.
The Packers weren’t shy about spending money on their defense when they signed Za’Darius to land a four-year contract for $ 66 million with a $ 20 million signing bonus. Then Preston signed a four-year contract for $ 52 million with a $ 16 million signing bonus, and Amos signed a four-year contract for $ 37 million with a guarantee of $ 21 million for the first two years of the contract.
Translation: $ 57 million to upgrade the Packers’ defenses, move them to 9th and 13th places, respectively, and help the team make two NFC championship appearances.
These three players have had a positive impact on the defense and the entire Packers team. It was money wisely spent on key positions. The Packers forced the great Tom Brady to intercept three times in the NFC championship game.
If not for indecisive coaching, the Packers could be the team representing the NFC in the Super Bowl.
Dallas has done a fantastic job signing its own freelance agents (with the exception of Byron Jones and Dak Prescott), but there is a saying that “fear money doesn’t make money”.
You can apply this quote to any capitalist institution, especially the NFL. But until Stephen and Jerry are no longer afraid of spending money on elite free agents, the Dallas Cowboys will continue to search for elite talent in the NFL version of a goodwill thrift store.