Cowboys’ inactivity has to be driving Jerry Jones crazy

Posted Wednesday, Mar. 13, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

lebreton For a guy who once signed Deion Sanders to a $12.999 million signing bonus and who also thought Randall Cunningham would make a good fit as backup quarterback, Tuesday must have driven Jerry Jones crazy.

All that Pepsi and Papa John’s money, and no way to spend it.

All those NFL free agents, and Owner Jones had only $177,000 to offer any of them.

The Dallas Cowboys were not alone on the sideline as free agency officially began Tuesday. Salary cap Loophole Limbo also has the Panthers, Saints and Redskins, among others, in its clutches.

That must be little consolation to Jones, however, the eternal wildcatter, who has always seemed happiest when he’s got cash in his pocket, looking for somewhere to spend it.

Free agency is the NFL’s cathouse. And Jerry couldn’t even go in Tuesday and look around.

I tried reading the NFL collective bargaining agreement once. I had better luck Tuesday understanding the Latin being chanted at the Vatican conclave. Nonguaranteed money, back-loaded contracts, pro-rated signing bonuses, the 30-Percent Rule — no wonder NFL teams have felt a duty to manipulate it.

Jones’ personal pleasure — and his poison — has been the signing bonus. Jerry’s generosity, often rendered prematurely, frequently has left him with back-loaded bonus money due to players who have lapsed into Cowboys footnotes.

Sanders’ signing paid off. But was Leonard Davis really worth $18.75 million?

Fans love NFL free agency. To them, it is Christmas in March.

Free agency is how Drew Brees became a New Orleans Saint and led them to the Super Bowl. Free agency is how the Arizona Cardinals made it to the Super Bowl behind Kurt Warner.

But buyer beware, even when the buyer, like Jerry, has a billion dollars.

There are no secrets here, Jones should know. The surest, wisest way to build a Super Bowl champion is through the NFL Draft.

Yet the Cowboys, annually lodged into the middle of the selecting order, have never found a comfortable and consistent groove during draft week. There is nobody left on the Cowboys roster from the 2009 draft, for example — nobody.

If an NFL franchise can’t regularly find starters and future Pro Bowl performers in the draft, it is perpetually swimming upstream if it dives into free agency.

Sure, had the Cowboys had the cap room, Jones could have made a conspicuous splash Tuesday had he signed, say, tackle Jermon Bushrod or receiver Mike Wallace.

Buyer beware, though. The Chicago Bears, who signed Bushrod from the Saints, also announced a four-year deal with free agent Martellus Bennett. Good luck with that, Jay Cutler.

The Cowboys, remember, were big at the free agency craps table last year, and Brandon Carr and Mackenzy Bernadeau, in particular, appear to be money well spent. Yet all that spending produced only an 8-8 record and closed another playoff-less year on Jones’ Super Bowl window.

By all accounts, Jones and son Stephen have worked mightily to try to free precious dollars under the salary cap. Redoing contracts with, among others, Jason Witten, Jay Ratliff, Orlando Scandrick, DeMarcus Ware and Dan Connor have helped.

Curiously, though, the one major move that could unloosen cap space remains undone. Tony Romo and the Cowboys have yet to come to an agreement on the quarterback’s contract extension. Thus, Romo counts $16.8 million against the cap, and the Cowboys don’t have the expected $8-10 million freedom that a new deal would bring.

Next time somebody says, “Romo is all about winning,” please slap him.

In the meantime, the first day of NFL free agency came and went Tuesday. And Owner Jones, one day older, could only sit and watch.

Gil LeBreton, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @gilebreton

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?

Friday, November 28Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard
Friday, November 28Full Scoreboard
Chicago «109Final | Box
Golden State493rd Qtr | Box
Charlotte55TV: CSN-BA, SPSO
New Orleans262nd Qtr 6:07 | Box
Atlanta31TV: FSN-NO, SPSO
Milwaukee372nd Qtr 5:43 | Box
Detroit37TV: FSN-WI, FSN-DET
Dallas302nd Qtr 9:41 | Box
Toronto26TV: FSN-SW, TSN2
LA Clippers31st Qtr 7:53 | Box
Orlando71st Qtr 8:02 | Box
Indiana11TV: FSN-FL, FSN-IN
New York51st Qtr 8:17 | Box
Oklahoma City11TV: MSG, FSN-OK
Sacramento 11/28 8:30 PM ET
San Antonio TV: CSN-CA, FSN-SW
Phoenix 11/28 9:00 PM ET
Denver TV: FSN-AZ, Altitude
Memphis 11/28 10:00 PM ET
Portland TV: SPSO, CSN-NW
Minnesota 11/28 10:30 PM ET
Full Scoreboard
Week 13Full Scoreboard
Chicago17Final | Box
Detroit «34Gridiron Replay
Philadelphia «33Final | Box
Dallas10Gridiron Replay
Seattle «19Final | Box
San Francisco3Gridiron Replay
San Diego 1:00 PM ET
Baltimore TV: CBS
Cleveland 1:00 PM ET
Buffalo TV: CBS
Tennessee 1:00 PM ET
Houston TV: CBS
Washington 1:00 PM ET
Indianapolis TV: FOX
NY Giants 1:00 PM ET
Jacksonville TV: FOX
Carolina 1:00 PM ET
Minnesota TV: FOX
New Orleans 1:00 PM ET
Pittsburgh TV: FOX
Oakland 1:00 PM ET
St. Louis TV: CBS
Cincinnati 1:00 PM ET
Tampa Bay TV: CBS
Arizona 4:05 PM ET
Atlanta TV: FOX
New England 4:25 PM ET
Green Bay TV: CBS
Denver 8:30 PM ET
Kansas City TV: NBC
Miami 8:30 PM ET
Full Scoreboard
Friday, November 28Full Scoreboard
NY Rangers «3Final | Box
Chicago «4Final | Box
NY Islanders2Final | Box
Washington «5
Winnipeg12nd Prd 11:47 | Box
Boston0TV: TVA Sports 2, TSN3, NESN
Montreal02nd Prd 11:58 | Box
Buffalo1TV: RDS, MSG-BUF
Detroit22nd Prd 15:18 | Box
New Jersey4TV: FSN-DET, MSG+
Carolina22nd Prd 9:22 | Box
Vancouver02nd Prd 9:24 | Box
Columbus0TV: SN-PAC, FSN-OH
Ottawa12nd Prd | Box
Florida1TV: RDS2, TSN5, FSN-FL
Edmonton01st Prd 14:13 | Box
St. Louis0TV: SN-W, FSN-MW
Minnesota 11/28 8:30 PM ET
Dallas TV: FSN-N+, FSN-SW+
Full Scoreboard