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Cowboys say they plan to be players when free agency hits
01:16 AM CST on Thursday, March 4, 2010
Restrictions have been placed on what the Cowboys can do in free agency.
That's like saying no one in the Cowboys' front office can take a spin on the Texas Giant unless they are 48-inches tall.
The Cowboys aren't above the rules. But since Jerry Jones and everyone else in the Cowboys front office stand above 48 inches, those restrictions don't have an impact.
Free agency begins at 11:01 this evening, and there's an impression that the Cowboys will be restrained by the Final Eight Plan that has been implemented for the uncapped season. Jones shoots that down. The owner is confident the club can pursue the players he wants and that his chances to acquire them aren't compromised.
"If it made sense to us [before the uncapped year], then it makes sense now," Jones said.
Let's put that in perspective. The Cowboys signed three defensive starters in free agency last season. Defensive end Igor Olshansky, linebacker Keith Brooking and safety Gerald Sensabaugh each counted less than $3.6 million against the cap in their first season.
Right guard Leonard Davis was the last high-dollar free-agent signing by the Cowboys. His six-year, $42 million deal, a deal that included a $16 million signing bonus, counted less than $5.8 million against the cap in his first season.
Restrictions placed on the four teams that advanced to the conference championship games are much more severe. But then, that's not the Cowboys' problem, is it?
The bottom line is Jones believes the Final Eight Plan won't freeze him out of any free agent the club has targeted.
"Again, without getting into the details of it, we can operate within the budget we have with the Cowboys," Jones said. "We can operate within that budget and do whatever we want to do."
Another consequence of this uncapped off-season is more than 200 players who were scheduled to become unrestricted free agents are now restricted. Sorry about that, Miles Austin.
General managers and coaches in Indianapolis for the scouting combine were split on what that will mean over the next few weeks. Some argue there will be less movement because there are fewer unrestricted free agents.
Others argue there could be an unprecedented run on restricted free agents. Remember, each team has more restricted free agents than in past seasons. If three or four of those players receive offer sheets, can that team really afford to keep all of them?
"I think there could be more action in that aspect of this off-season because there are more players to pick from," Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland said.
This is where the Cowboys will be dangerous. Executive vice president Stephen Jones will tell you this team doesn't have any glaring needs. This allows the Cowboys to be opportunistic and pounce rather than desperately chase one player or position.
"We're always consistent," Stephen Jones said. "If an opportunity presents itself to improve in an area, then we'll be ready to move."
Those opportunities won't be diminished by the Final Eight Plan.
"I don't know in what way, but I know we're going to have some opportunities in this off-season," Jerry Jones said.
"And I'm going to take advantage of it."