Bang For Free-Agent Bucks

right. Hi Striker: Bell ringer.   

CB Anthony Henry ($10 M SB): After eight games, even though Jones guaranteed Henry a $10 million signing bonus and then handed him another $1 million in roster bonus, this deal was about to knock the bell right off the top. Henry was just what the doctor had ordered at right corner. He was physical. He competed hard. He made plays, leading the team with three interceptions at the halfway point. And he made not only Newman better by locking down his side of the field, but also Roy Williams, who was freed up to concentrate on the run and blitzing more. Henry was worth every penny until the injury struck. After that, you could almost make a case he should have been shut down those final eight games. He was a shell of himself, yet still nearly earned every penny of that $2 million portion of his signing bonus. Hi Striker: He-Man.   

DT Jason Ferguson ($8.125 M SB): This is an extremely hard position to analyze, nose tackle in a 3-4 defense. If the nose tackle is doing his job, then everyone else is making tackles, especially against the run. The Cowboys played the run pretty well for the most part this season, but did struggle in a few games (Kansas City, Oakland, Giants 2) and finished 15th against the run. Ferguson finished 10th on the team with 42 tackles, but only had two tackles for losses and one sack. That signing bonus prorates at $1.621 million a year for the five years of the deal. Not sure this bang was any more than two-thirds up the totem pole. Hi Striker: Keep Working Out.   

OG Marco Rivera ($8.125 M SB): Not sure we got the Rivera the Cowboys signed the first of March. Because no more than three weeks later, Rivera suffered a ruptured disk in his back and needed surgery. While he was ready to play this season, was he really ready to play this season? Was this the guy the Cowboys analyzed in free agency? Rivera did not seem to have the strength he previously had when he was going to those three consecutive Pro Bowls, at times getting overpowered at the point of attack. And it would make sense he did not have the same leg strength since a ruptured disk does cause problems initially down the hamstring. Like Ferguson, Rivera's signing bonus prorates to $1.621 million over five years, and for that, the Cowboys need more out of the 33-year-old guard. Hi Striker: Try Again.   

RB Anthony Thomas ($350,000 SB): Not sure the Cowboys even got that out of the veteran running back, who played in only five games during his eight-game stay in Dallas. Thomas gained all of 80 yards on 36 carries, and was released after the eighth game once it appeared Julius Jones had recovered enough from his high ankle sprain to resume playing. His best attribute was allowing Marion Barber to gain a little experience and confidence playing behind him while Jones was out. But other than that . . . . Hi Striker: Pencil Neck.   

WR Peerless Price ($500,000 SB): The veteran wide receiver played in just seven games. He started once. He was never a factor, catching six passes for 96 yards. His biggest contribution was the 58-yard catch in the second Philadelphia game to set up the Cowboys' first touchdown in the 21-20 victory. Evidently, Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells never trusted him, and did not want to retard second-year receiver Patrick Crayton's development. And, since he was a vested veteran, Price had the opportunity to collect his full base salary, $1.3 million. So if in the end Price cost the Cowboys $1.8 million, there was absolutely no bang for those bucks. Hi Striker: Weakling.   

**   

So as you can see, spending money in free agency doesn't always equate with production. The Cowboys got their most bang for their buck by shelling out fewer signing-bonus bucks, Bledsoe receiving just $2 million and Glenn receiving just $1 million. That means for $3 million in signing bonus, they ended up with basically two starters by the end of the season. 

And let's not discount Henry. When he was healthy, he was worth every penny Jones shelled out . . . until he was injured. 

But after that, if you average out the rest, best we can say is fair to

MICK SHOTS

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