Farm System

Jason Williams is gifted but has needed time to adjust to a new position.

improved 2009 class would help achieve a goal Jones seemed to allude to Wednesday: stockpiling young talent at reasonable prices.

Yes, this year is uncapped. But if the new CBA has a similar salary cap structure, the draft - not free agency - is the long-term solution to building a long-term winner.

"The real world is the Dallas Cowboys have a budget," Jones said. "I'm not known for following budgets, but we do have a budget because I have to look at all kinds of consequences over the next several years. I have to look at that. And one of the things that I hope that we have over the next several years - and I'm going to do everything I can to have it - is another collective bargaining agreement."

That's how teams like the Giants, Patriots, Steelers and Eagles perennially enter the playoff picture. The Cowboys are following that same blueprint, and it's working. Eventually, higher-priced veterans have to be replaced by cheaper, younger players.

Miles Austin for T.O. Mike Jenkins for Anthony Henry. Anthony Spencer for Greg Ellis.

So when you ponder how the Cowboys will get better without a bold free agent signing, keep the '09 draft picks in mind (as well as practice-squad receiver Manuel Johnson and former undrafted receiver Kevin Ogletree).

They're part of a farm system built to net a harvest - hopefully sooner than later.

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