Dallas Cowboys Have a Bad Habit and it's Why They Won't be Active in Free Agency

By Ben Grimaldi
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys have a bad habit. Well actually they have more than one, but this one particular bad habit is the reason they won’t be able to be active in free agency this off-season. Jerry Jones, and his son Stephen Jones, consistently overpay for players. Whether it be in free agency or when re-signing their own players, they just don’t seem to understand what the right price is.

It didn’t just begin a few years ago but now that the Cowboys are teetering on the edge of the salary cap, the past five years have been a good indication that the team overpays for too many of their players.

Let’s start with safety Ken Hamlin. After a Pro Bowl season with the Cowboys, they rewarded him with a contract for six years and $39 million dollars. The contract was higher than what other comparable safeties got in free agency that off-season. To get the big contract, Hamlin had a big year in 2007, registering 102 tackles and five interceptions. After signing his big deal, Hamlin lasted just two more seasons in Dallas, picking off just one more pass in a Cowboys uniform. To put it mildly, it was a bad contract.

Also in 2008, the Cowboys signed their new starting running back Marion Barber to a contract of seven years and $45 million. To put that number in perspective, a year later, the New York Giants gave bruising running back Brandon Jacobs, a contract of four years and $25 million. Same type of player, but a much different deal. At that point in his career, Barber had no career 1,000 yard seasons and Jacobs had two under his belt. Only the Cowboys would give so many years and so much money to a physical running back when history proves that they don’t typically last in the NFL. Barber never did rush for 1,000 yards in a season and he only played two more years in Dallas as well.

Then there’s wide receiver Roy Williams. I’m not going to get into the brutal trade that I hated from day one, but I will get into the awful contract he was rewarded with. Williams got a 5-year, $45 million contract from the Cowboys, a deal which had plenty of people scratching their heads at when it went down. At the time, Williams was paid as one of the top receivers in the NFL when he wasn’t even close. In just two and a half seasons with the Cowboys he didn’t catch 100 balls, failed to top the 600-yard receiving mark in any season and only scored 13 touchdowns. In a word, pathetic.

These are just some of the huge contracts the Cowboys handed out over the past five years that never worked out. Of course there are plenty of others that make the list, such as four-year, $34 million they gave to a 34-year old Terrell Owens and the five year $50.2 million the Cowboys gave to Terence Newman in 2008. Owens lasted just one more season in Dallas before they released him and Newman played only three years into his deal, so the Cowboys have made plenty of mistakes in regards to new contracts.

None of these deals have anything to do with where the Cowboys stand with the salary cap right now but it shows a pattern of misjudgment by the organization. But let’s also not forget there are plenty of Cowboys on this current team who have contributed to their current salary cap dilemma.

Miles Austin’s ridiculous six year, $54 million extension comes to mind because, like Roy Williams, he’s being paid as one of the top receivers in the game and he doesn’t play like one. Not to mention his contract is the main reason why the Cowboys lost $10 million in cap space over two years. Jones and the Cowboys have severely overpaid for Austin, just like they have for Orlando Scandrick, five years for $27 million, Doug Free, four years and $32 million, and the recently released Gerald Sensabaugh, who got five years for $22.5 million. None of these players have given the Cowboys their money’s worth and the team overcompensated each one of them.

But perhaps the worst contract the Cowboys have done recently was Jay Ratliff’s. Even before his arrest and injury plagued 2012 season, Ratliff was grossly overpaid when the Cowboys gave him a five year, $40 million extension. What team do you know that would give a 31-year old player that kind of contract? Especially at the defensive tackle position where you take tons of abuse.

The Cowboys constant inability to judge a players worth is one of the major reasons why the Cowboys aren’t active every year in free agency, and it’s the reason why that will be the case again this year. Jerry and Stephen Jones need to figure out what the term market value means because if they continue to repeat these mistakes, they’ll struggle to put a consistently good team on the field.

You can take that to the bank.

you can chat with or follow Ben on twitter @BenGrimaldi



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