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Cowboys value keeping their own players

Re-signing players like Rolando McClain shows the Cowboys believe injuries were a big reason for their 4-12 finish last season. Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

IRVING, Texas -- There isn’t a musical artist Jason Garrett loves more than Bruce Springsteen. He has seen him countless times and will likely be in attendance when Springsteen hits Dallas next month.

Perhaps falling in line with Springsteen’s, "We Take Care of Our Own," from the Wrecking Ball album, the Dallas Cowboys have re-signed six of their 18 free agents so far: Rolando McClain, Morris Claiborne, James Hanna, Kyle Wilber, Josh Thomas and Charles Brown.

Some might question the logic of keeping players from a team that finished 4-12 in 2015, but the surer bets in free agency come when you know the player. It also means the Cowboys believe injuries played the single biggest part of the poor season.

The teams that have spent large amounts of money at the start of free agency often receive immediate kudos (see the New York Giants last week) but end up with at least some regret in the future (see the Philadelphia Eagles, 2015).

The Cowboys' better moves over the years have been when they have kept their own players, either from ever hitting the market (Tyron Smith, Sean Lee, Orlando Scandrick, Tony Romo, Jason Witten) months before they can become free agents or right before they can become free agents (Doug Free, Cole Beasley, Chris Jones, Dan Bailey, L.P. Ladouceur, Barry Church) of different levels (unrestricted or restricted).

The Cowboys would like to also keep defensive end Jack Crawford and running back Lance Dunbar. They could make plays to keep Robert Turbin, Tyler Clutts and Jeremy Mincey as well after things settle down. What about Greg Hardy? That door is closed, even if the Cowboys won’t publicly close it.

Dunbar has visited with the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks, but is coming back from major knee surgery. In addition to tearing his anterior cruciate ligament, he suffered a torn patellar tendon. It is possible he won’t be ready for the season opener.

Crawford offers position flexibility and had four sacks last season. Turbin picked up the system quick enough to play in his first game five days after signing with the Cowboys last season. They have not made a big play for another free agent runner yet.

As free agency approaches its second week, the big names have largely signed elsewhere. One name remains, safety Eric Weddle. The Cowboys have ties to Weddle with special teams coach Rich Bisaccia when they were together with the San Diego Chargers.

Weddle reportedly would like to make a decision soon. Some reports have linked the Cowboys to him, but the Cowboys will only go so far. They showed that last year and last week.

The big-money deals move the needle in free agency. Keeping your own free agents doesn’t as much, but they can prove to be more effective on the field and against the salary cap.