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'08 shopping spree keeps looking worse

The Cowboys thought they were keeping the core of a Super Bowl contender together when they gave five veterans rich contracts during the 2008 offseason.

Two years later, all they’ve got to show for the spending spree is an aging cornerback and a beat-up, should-be backup running back.

Terrell Owens got a pink slip – or white tablecloth, actually – less than nine months after signing a four-year, $34 million extension that included a $12.9 million signing bonus. His production declined during his last season in Dallas, which he of course blamed on the quarterback and offensive coordinator, causing all kinds of drama in the process.

Flozell Adams and Ken Hamlin are looking for a new team after getting cut Friday. Neither got to the third seasons of the six-year contracts they signed a couple of years ago.

Adams, who signed a $43 million deal with $15 million guaranteed, was at least an above-average left tackle the last two seasons. But the Cowboys saw an old, oft-penalized player who they didn’t believe could continue to produce at that level.

Hamlin, who got a $9 million bonus as part of his $39 million contract, made precious few impact plays after getting paid. That was a significant problem for a defense that was kept from being dominant by a low turnover total.

Terence Newman and Marion Barber are the only survivors of the ’08 shopping spree, unless you want to count receiver Roy Williams, whom the Cowboys gave a five-year, $45 million deal after acquiring him in a trade in the middle of that season.

For Jerry Jones’ sake, let’s limit this to the guys he gave eight-figure deals that spring. It’s bad enough without lumping Williams, one of the worst trade busts of all-time, in with the others.

Newman is still a solid cornerback who made the Pro Bowl as an alternate last year, but that was the first time in three years he managed to stay healthy a whole season. He’ll be 32 in September and is still owed significant money from the seven-year, $50.2 million deal ($22.5 million guaranteed) he signed.

Barber hasn’t come close to justifying his $45 million price tag, and he’s unlikely to see all that money from the seven-year deal he signed that included $16 million in guaranteed money. That’s a steep price to pay a backup, which is what Barber should be unless Felix Jones gets injured. Barber’s numbers, especially yards per carry and touchdowns, plummeted in his two seasons as a starter.

The Cowboys still consider themselves Super Bowl contenders, but that doesn’t have much to do with the millions Jerry spent two springs ago.