The dam blocking the Dallas Cowboys in free agency has broken and the team is now bracing for the potential rush of three new players.
Two are pretty much secured.
The Cowboys signed former Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris to a two-year, $3.5 million deal Tuesday, per his agent Sean Stellato. He has a chance to earn up to $5.5 million with incentives.
The Oakland Raiders declined to match a three-year, $8.55 million offer sheet to restricted free agent defensive end Benson Mayowa, clearing the path for him to officially join the Cowboys Wednesday.
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And the team is close to adding former San Diego Chargers cornerback Patrick Robinson. A three-year deal is being held up because Robinson switched agents from Kevin Conner to Ron Butler in the last week.
The Cowboys signed just one player — defensive tackle Cedric Thornton — through the first two weeks of free agency and had a number of misses on guys because of contract demands.
Vice president Stephen Jones said Cowboys had a good day.
“You bring guys in and sometimes they work out, sometimes they don’t,” Stephen Jones said. “We talked to other guys than the guys we brought in. Hopefully, we are doing a good thing with sticking with our numbers in what we think a guy is worth. This market is tough.”
According to a source, the NFL showed teams a slide at the NFL owners meeting stating that 93 percent of players who sign the first day of free agency, when the big money is spent, don’t make the Pro Bowl the first year and 90 percent don’t make it the first three years.
So the Cowboys feel good about their value and their additions.
Morris, a two-time Pro Bowler, gives the Cowboys a starting-caliber running back to pair with Darren McFadden.
In four seasons in Washington, Morris, 27, started all 64 games and rushed for 4,713 yards and 29 touchdowns on 1,078 attempts. Only Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings has more rushing yards than Morris over the past four years.
In eight career games against the Cowboys, Morris has rushed 152 times for 710 yards and seven touchdowns.
Morris had 1,613 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on 335 carries in 2012, his rookie season. He had career lows last season with 202 carries, 751 yards and one touchdown.
Morris would give the Cowboys an option in case McFadden falls off from last year’s surprising season when he was fourth in the NFL with 1,089 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 239 carries despite not starting until midway through the season.
But owner Jerry Jones said McFadden remains the lead back.
“Morris will be more limited in his carries than McFadden,” Jones said. “But I do see substantive workload there for him, but not as much as McFadden. I know that we are pleased and are more confident that McFadden can have more work than we thought at this time last year. I think he does his best when he’s got more work.”
Most important, Morris gives Dallas another proven back in the team’s quest to get back to the run-dominant attack they had in 2014 when they finished second in the league in rushing (147.1 yards per game).
Stephen Jones said the Cowboys could still take a running back in upcoming NFL Draft.
Mayowa helps the Cowboys address a huge need at defensive end.
With Randy Gregory facing a four-game suspension to start the 2016 season and Greg Hardy, Jack Crawford and Jeremy Mincey as unrestricted free agents, the Cowboys have no bodies and no depth at the position.
DeMarcus Lawrence, who is coming off back surgery, is the only proven performer under contract.
The Raiders had until Wednesday to match the offer sheet but didn’t need that long to make the decision. Oakland had given Mayowa the right-of-first-refusal tender worth $1.671 million but not matching the offer means they won’t receive compensation from the Cowboys.
The 24-year-old Mayowa, undrafted in 2013 out of Idaho, has just two sacks and three starts the past three seasons for the Raiders. But the Cowboys see him as a player on the rise.
The addition of Mayowa won’t prevent the Cowboys from targeting the position in the NFL Draft. Ohio State’s Joey Bosa has been projected by many to be taken by the Cowboys with the fourth overall pick.
A potential deal with Robinson could also seal the fate of cornerback Brandon Carr, who could be asked to take a pay cut or be released for salary cap reasons.
Robinson is the third cornerback the Cowboys have had visit in free agency, joining Nolan Carroll and Leon Hall.
But he would be the first to sign if they can clear things with Butler.
Carroll re-signed with the Philadelphia Eagles on a one-year deal for $3 million. Hall came in last week on a visit, but left without a deal.
Robinson’s presence should crystallize things with Carr, who could be a salary cap casualty because of his $9.1 million base salary and $13.8 million cap hit.
Robinson started 10 games in 2015 for the Chargers, recording 49 tackles and an interception. He had had eight pass deflections.
Carr hasn’t had an interception since 2013. He also had just six pass deflections in 2015.
Robinson would join veteran cornerbacks Morris Claiborne and Orlando Scandrick. The Cowboys would like to keep Carr, but only at a reduced price. He called the Cowboys’ bluff on a potential salary reduction last year.
This time they hold all the cards.