Cowboys' numbers game works better in free agency

IRVING, Texas -- As your mind wanders in free agency to visions of Ndamukong Suh or Jason Pierre-Paul or Darrelle Revis joining the Dallas Cowboys as some sort of final piece to their Super Bowl puzzle, take heed of Jerry Jones' words last week.

"Can two do more than one?" Jones said. "In some cases relative to dollars, can five do what one does?"

Jones is not talking about two premier players. He is talking about getting two players for the price it might cost for a great player.

The Cowboys worked it that way in 2014.

They didn't want to keep DeMarcus Ware with a $16 million salary-cap figure. They weren't willing to offer Ware a smaller deal. They thought his best days were behind him. The Denver Broncos quickly scooped up Ware with a three-year, $30 million deal with $20 million guaranteed.

Ware had a cap figure of $9.666 million in 2014 and had 10 sacks.

The Cowboys went with the numbers' approach in replacing Ware. They signed Jeremy Mincey to a two-year deal. They kept Anthony Spencer on a one-year deal. Combined with George Selvie, they combined to count $3.771 million against the cap and combined for 9.5 sacks.

So it was basically the same production at nearly $6 million in savings. In theory, the Cowboys were able to allocate dollars elsewhere, like locking up Tyron Smith to a long-term deal. Whenever a team thinks it's one player away from a Super Bowl, they make a mistake. Charles Haley was more the exception than the rule when the Cowboys traded for him, but that also came before the salary cap.

So when you start wondering about Suh or Pierre-Paul or Revis, shoot a little lower and remember two -- or three -- is better than one.

"If anything this year showed me that with the numbers [it works]," Jones said. "Now anytime you go too far in excess of theory, then you're going to get out of bounds. Everything has its moderation. But in general, loading up big-time on a player in an area that really requires just to some degree good solid intense consistent play, that might be not the way to go."