Stop if you have heard this before: The Dallas Cowboys have no plans of making a big-time splash in free agency.
It’s come to be a familiar refrain from a Cowboys organization more focused on building through the draft and re-signing their own players rather than spending big money in free agency.
It’s something executive vice president Stephen Jones echoed again on the first day of the NFL Scouting Combine, which also doubles as the unofficial start of free agency.
“I don’t expect us to be big players for other team’s players, but obviously we want to see where our guys are and they’ve got to see where they are in terms of what their market may be,” Jones said Tuesday. “That certainly will influence whether we can sign some of our guys back. It’ll depend on what their market is.”
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Jones said the Cowboys’ biggest priority of the offseason is signing All-Pro guard Zack Martin to a long-term contract extension, while also coming to decisions on their own free agents at cornerback and safety. Cornerbacks Morris Claiborne and Brandon Carr and safeties Barry Church and J.J. Wilcox all have expiring contracts.
The team needs to bring back at least one at each position.
But that will depend on the market and the Cowboys don’t have the room or flexibility to overspend, especially with Martin set to become the third member of the offensive line to get a long-term extension, while also joining receiver Dez Bryant and running back Ezekiel Elliott as other offensive players with lucrative deals.
“I’ve made it clear our No. 1 priority is Zack, to get him re-signed at some point,” Jones said. “When you’ve got that much money in the offensive line and you have Dez and you have Zeke who obviously was a top-five pick, those guys don’t come cheap. It’s just you’ve got to start to … You don’t have enough money to go around when it’s all said and done. So as much as we’d like to keep them all, some guys are going to make more than we can afford to pay them.”
The Cowboys have already picked up the fifth-year option on Martin’s rookie deal. A contract extension would also help lower his cap figure and free up money to pay other free agents.