Free agency success?
Free Agency Success
The Cowboys needed to purge the roster of underachieving players and quickly find upgrades at several positions. Give the Cowboys' front office credit for doing that.
The first big signing was cornerback Brandon Carr.
Sure the Cowboys overpaid, signing him to a five-year, $50.1 million deal, but Carr is better than Terence Newman, who regressed as last season moved along. In the summer of 2011, the Cowboys tried to upgrade the position by signing Nnamdi Asomugha, but the Philadelphia Eagles outbid the Cowboys for his services.
Talk all you want about Asomugha's season, but he's a man-to-man press corner who played more zone coverage, which took him out of his element.
Carr will play the man-to-man coverage and provide the swagger that defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is looking for from his secondary.
As good as Tony Fiammetta was at fullback for the Cowboys, his health -- he missed five games due to injury -- was a concern. The Cowboys upgraded the position by signing Lawrence Vickers, who led the way for Houston's Arian Foster to rush for 1,224 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Kyle Kosier is a quality guard, but he started to break down in 2011. It was just time to move on from him, despite how well he played. The Cowboys signed two younger players in left guard Nate Livings, who played alongside left tackle Andrew Whitworth in Cincinnati, and Mackenzy Bernadeau, who backed up both guard spots and center in Carolina.
Jason Garrett talks about adding competition at all positions, and he has done that with the offensive line and at backup quarterback and inside linebacker. Kyle Orton's signing is a statement to Stephen McGee that the Cowboys don't believe he is ready to be a No. 2 quarterback. If he disagrees, then prove it in training camp. If something happens to Tony Romo, you have a better feeling the Cowboys can win a game with Orton than Jon Kitna or McGee.
Dan Connor's signing at inside linebacker will push Bruce Carter, who is entering his second season. Carter will attempt to become the starter at inside linebacker beside Sean Lee. If Connor, credited with 87 total tackles as a starting middle linebacker at Carolina last season, beats out Carter, it can be viewed only as a positive.
But after the first week of free agency, the Cowboys' front office should be proud of what it did. It's not easy to improve the roster, but the Cowboys did it last week.
A start, but not a success
Let's stop planning the next Super Bowl championship parade around these parts for just a few minutes and discuss just how much the Cowboys actually improved in free agency.
Why is a general manager whose franchise has won one playoff game in the past 16 seasons suddenly being praised as a genius?
It's easy to understand why the Cowboys gave Pro Bowl money (five years, $50.1 million) to a cornerback who has never been to the Pro Bowl. The Cowboys had painted themselves into a corner and had to overpay to fix the problem, throwing money at the only good, young corner on the market.
There's no question that Carr, who turns 26 in May, will be an upgrade over way-past-his-prime Terence Newman. That doesn't mean Carr, who was the Chiefs' No. 2 corner, will be worth the money.
The Cowboys didn't value Robinson enough to make a competitive offer after the Jacksonville Jaguars put a five-year, $32.5 million contract on the table. That's understandable, considering that the Cowboys have already made major investments in Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, but losing Robinson will sting. Dallas had a dreadful red zone offense until Robinson emerged as its top touchdown scorer last season.
Quarterback Kyle Orton, a player the Cowboys hope never steps on the field, was probably the biggest upgrade other than Carr. You can make an argument for inside linebacker Dan Connor, but like departed veterans Keith Brooking and Bradie James, he's a liability in pass coverage.
I don't get the Cowboys' approach at guard. Why pay decent money to two guys you hope are a little better than mediocre (Mackenzy Bernadeau and Nate Livings) instead of good money to a guy you know is good? Ben Grubbs wouldn't have cost much more than the total the Cowboys paid for Bernadeau and Livings, guards who lost a starting job and struggled as a starter, respectively, last season.
Some folks think the Cowboys' talent evaluators earned trust because of savvy veteran pickups like Robinson and fullback Tony Fiammetta (replaced by Lawrence Vickers last week) last year. That theory conveniently overlooks the fact the Cowboys had no interest in guard Brian Waters.
Waters started for the Patriots and would have played in the Pro Bowl, but he was too busy preparing for the Super Bowl, something Jerry's team hasn't sniffed since Jimmy Johnson's core fell apart.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Some Jason Garrett apologists say Jason Garrett is learning on the job. Ben and Skin discuss Garrett's status as the coach of the Cowboys and Skin sounds off on what he thinks of the Cowboys' current situation.
Jean-Jacques Taylor wrote a column for ESPNDallas.com that says Jerry Jones should extend Jason Garrett's contract. Say what? Coop and Nate discuss why that is a bad idea.
Ben and Skin challenge Jean-Jacques Taylor on his recent ESPN Dallas column in which he comes to the defense of Jason Garrett.