The Dallas Cowboys have made moves this offseason that may have raised a few eyebrows. DeMarcus Ware, a Cowboys legend, was let go. Jason Hatcher, the Cowboys’ sack leader a season ago and the only big name left on their defensive line, was let go. Jared Allen, a future Hall of Fame pass rusher who was testing the free agency market, was not a priority. Instead the Cowboys saved a ton of money and made their biggest splash in signing Henry Melton to a contract that will end before he reaches the age of Ware, Hatcher or Allen.
These moves appear to be odd, because as the saying goes, “Everything is Bigger in Texas,” and yet the Cowboys avoided all the big names and the big contracts. Instead, the Cowboys went significantly younger and significantly cheaper. This approach is the best thing for the Cowboys. Too often they find themselves struggling to break through unbelievably large contacts on aging players who, at some point in their career, were dominant, but have certainly lost a step with age.
Not only do contracts like that of Ware’s leave the Cowboys overpaying for decreasing production, but it also prevents them from developing more younger players. Spreading the wealth around cheaper younger players may not give the Cowboys as much flash, but it will give them the kind of depth that a successful team needs. It’s too risky to depend on fewer larger contracts as, whether it’s a down season or injuries, it is too easy for something detrimental to occur to the team.
While the Cowboys wont be able to completely avid any large contracts, they are much better off spending their money on young stars like Dez Bryant and Tyron Smith. These players are worth the contracts, because given their age, their ability and production will be increasing rather than decreasing. The formula that has hurt the Cowboys the most is wasting too much money on age.
Stephen Jones has made it clear that the approach taken this free agency is a long-term plan. Avoiding paying age can set the Cowboys up for sustained success, rather than hoping to have that one special year. At this time, the Cowboys have only five players over the age of 30, three of which are at the quarterback position. They are beginning to build the team from the ground up, establishing foundations that will put the coaches in a position where they wont have to pull players off the street, as was the case with the defensive line last year.
The Cowboys are heading in the right direction, and if the plan used in this year’s free agency is maintained, they will finally be able to escape the vaunted mediocre record of 8-8 that has plagued them three years in a row now.