Cowboys sign four players

IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys signed four players Wednesday to futures contracts in hopes they find another Nick Hayden.

Guard Chris DeGeare, defensive end Tristan Okpalaugo and linebackers Quinton Spears and Jabara Williams joined the group of practice squad players that re-signed with the team after the regular-season finale loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Hayden, a defensive tackle, was signed Feb. 11, 2013 to a futures deal and started every game.

DeGeare was among the New York Giants’ final cuts in 2013 and was out of football, like Hayden, in 2012. He was a fifth-round pick in 2010 by the Minnesota Vikings and started five games. He spent the 2011 season on the Vikings' practice squad. He spent six weeks on the Tennessee Titans practice squad in 2011 but was not picked up after his Oct. 17 release. He signed with the Giants on Jan. 8, 2013.

Okpalaugo had two tackles and a sack against the Cowboys in the Hall of Fame Game against the Miami Dolphins. After he was cut by Miami he spent eight days on the Vikings’ practice squad before he was cut Sept. 10, 2013.

Spears played in 13 games for the Cleveland Browns in 2011 and was out of football in 2012 before signing with the Indianapolis Colts. He was released by the Colts last September and did not sign with another team.

Williams spent time with the St. Louis Rams (seventh-round pick in 2011) and Chicago Bears. He re-signed with the Rams in 2012 but was cut coming out of training camp in 2013 and was not in football.

Among the 21 players the Cowboys signed to futures contracts last year, five spent time on the 53-man roster or practice squad, including Hayden, Tim Benford, Micah Pellern, Andre Smith and Ray Dominguez.