Taylor: Inside the Dallas Cowboys

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Taylor: Forget big-time free agents; Cowboys more likely to reward their own
By JEAN-JACQUES TAYLOR / The Dallas Morning News
http://www.dallasnews.com/newsletters/dallas-cowboys/20110322-taylor-forget-big-time-free-agents-cowboys-more-likely-to-reward-their-own.ece?action=reregister

Michael Ainsworth / Staff Photographer
Offensive lineman Doug Free is likely to be the next player to sign a big-money deal with the Cowboys, writes Jean-Jacques Taylor.

You can stop holding your breath waiting for the Cowboys to make a big splashy move in free agency.

It ain’t happening — and it has nothing to do with the lockout.

Take a look at the Cowboys’ recent history and it’s clear that Jerry and Stephen Jones don’t like spending big dollars on free agents. They prefer bargains such as Keith Brooking and Igor Olshanski and Gerald Sensabaugh.

They prefer to spend big money on their own guys such Miles Austin, DeMarcus Ware and Jason Witten.

Based on that criteria, Doug Free is the next guy who’s going to cash a big check with Jerry Jones’ signature on the bottom of it.

And when you consider the last few big money deals with players such as Ken Hamlin (6 years, $36 million), Roy Williams (6 years, $55 million) and even Leonard Davis (7 years, $48 million) to some degree, it’s easy to see why the Cowboys are leery about signing big-ticket items in free agency And it’s not going to change anytime soon.

COWBOYS Q&A

Q: Are there any good inside linebackers that will be free agents?

Bernard Henry

TAYLOR: I don’t think it matters. The Cowboys have Keith Brooking, who will probably return as a backup next season, along with Bradie James and Sean Lee. The Cowboys have a lot of needs that are more important than inside linebacker. Besides, it’s not like the Cowboys have been spending a lot of money in free agency as of late.

* * *

Q: If the lockout persists throughout the entirety of the 2011 NFL regular season, does the burden of player salaries on top of the already heavy financial commitment Jerry Jones has to the stadium force Jerry to sell the Dallas Cowboys?

Martin

TAYLOR: Uh, no. Jerry might not have as much money as he did, but he still has plenty. The Cowboys will be in the family for the next 50-60 years. Easily. You’re going to have to get used to it. Once Jerry is no longer in charge, Stephen will run things.

* * *

Q: Jerry thought we could win a Super Bowl starting Alan Ball at free safety. O.J. Atogwe would have been a perfect choice to help our defense, but we let him go to a division rival. And Michael Huff is going to cost us more that O.J. did. Hear me now and believe me later.

Omar Savoy

TAYLOR: Every team in the league has an Alan Ball in its starting lineup. You can’t have Pro Bowl players at every position. The Cowboys will look for safety help in the draft. As far as Atogwe is concerned, the Cowboys have passed on him twice. Clearly, they don’t want him. It’s not like they didn’t know he was available. They chose to pass on him. They don’t think he’s worth the money. They might think Huff is worth the money. Perhaps, they want to see what’s available in the draft before they spend in free agency. Let’s see what the roster looks like whenever training camp begins. Then you can make some real judgments on whether they’ve been productive in this off-season.

* * *

Q: I understand this is business and these folks must do what they think they need to do to be profitable for both the players and the NFL. But both groups should not underestimate the risk they take of offending the hand that feeds them (the fans). In these bad economic times, most folks don’t want to hear about billionaires complaining they don’t have enough money and they don’t want hear whining from millionaires that they can’t support their families on $10,000,000,000.00 per year. I’ve been a fan of what is now the mighty NFL for more than four decades. I get great pleasure out of things as simple as free agency and mini camps; they hold me over until the games begin.

Kevin Clark, Wyoming

TAYLOR: I understand your point, but the average NFL career is less than 4 years. And the average NFL player is not a millionaire. We hear about Peyton Manning and Tom Brady ; but just because Tom Cruise and Angelina Jolie make $25 million a movie doesn’t mean every actor does. Do most NFL players have a nice head start on life? Yes. But the majority is hardly set for life. Whatever money they earn must last them another 45-50 years. Just another perspective.

* * *

Q: Has the recent lockout affected Rob Ryan and how he would evaluate his players on defense?

Jonathan Green Rowlett, Texas

TAYLOR: Not yet. He watched all of the video from last season and made some assumptions based on that. He’s also spoken to most of the starters and explained his philosophy on defense. It will slow him down in terms of installing the defense, but every new coaching staff has the same issue. This is not a surprise, and it can’t or won’t be used as an excuse.

* * *

Q: Is Jerry gonna sign Nnamdi Asomugha?

Kyle Dantzler, Carrollton, Texas

TAYLOR: I wouldn’t think so. The Cowboys already have two big-money players in Mike Jenkins, a former first-round pick, and Terence Newman at cornerback. I don’t think he wants to add another, which would relegate one of them to the bench. The Cowboys prefer spending big money on their own guys.

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