IRVING, Texas – Neither Jeremy Mincey nor Terrell McClain are, or will be expected to be, DeMarcus Ware. The days of owning one of the best pass rushers of all time are over.
It's time for that reality to sink in. Instead, the Cowboys are organizing a strength in numbers free agency policy, after past years of extending contracts of declining veterans and doling out cash to pricey free agents.
The new trend began with Mincey, who's got 20 sacks since joining the NFL in 2006, and McClain, who's got one sack in his career. It will not end with them.
But don't expect any sort of long-term deals for aging veterans, the way the Cowboys might have operated in the past.
Jason Hatcher and Henry Melton are still options on the table for the Cowboys, and either one of them could be the biggest name the Cowboys bring in for 2014, but there's a reason the Cowboys haven't inked any star free agents to deals yet. They don't want to overpay veterans, and they're being patient in their approach to add to the line, perhaps waiting for their asking prices to decrease to a level they're comfortable with and can afford.
The Cowboys are also prepared to say they'll pass, content to try to turn younger players or former highly regarded prospects who haven't reached their peak into viable rotational pieces. At best, they could turn into a George Selvie, who didn't have a team at the start of the 2013 season and was forced to start. That chance resulted in seven sacks. [embedded_ad]
These new additions won't be the next Ware, and they won't be asked to be.
It doesn't make for a fun start to free agency, watching the team's all-time sack leader and a veteran receiver go out the door to make room for two players who haven't yet fulfilled their NFL potential, while another NFC East team is hauling in Darren Sproles to complement LeSean McCoy in what's sure to be one of the most elusive tandems in the league.
The Cowboys have been criticized for holding onto veterans for too long, from Jeremiah Ratliff to Austin. They've tried the approach of overpaying during this period before without much winning to show. Now, they're looking to operate a different way early on in this free agency period after watching most of their money pour recently into back-loaded contracts.
Gone are the days of strength in one stud rusher named Ware. The new approach is strength in numbers and focusing primarily on the draft, which means sacrificing the fun of free agent landings and jersey sales for the hope of development and future affordable production with waves of contributors.