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Mailbag: Could Cowboys Find Players From USFL?


In the "Countdown" series, you listed Tony Hill as an underappreciated wide receiver. I agree with that assessment. Can you think of any other Dallas Cowboys historically or with the current team who are underappreciated? – MARTY MONFORTE / ENDICOTT, NY

Nick: I'll say this not because he's one of my favorite all-time players, but Darren Woodson really needs to be in the Hall of Fame. He was someone who could've easily played – and starred – in any decade. Now he might have played linebacker in some eras, and maybe even cornerback as well, but Darren Woodson would've been great at any point. He was one of the best defenders on a dynasty team and for that, I just think he needs to be in the Hall of Fame. So I don't think he's appreciated enough. I think Nate Newton, Everson Walls and even Tony Romo didn't get the credit they deserve, and I'd like to see them all in the Ring of Honor one day. On this team, I don't think we appreciate how good of a special teams player C.J. Goodwin is. This guy is really impactful because of his speed and knowledge of the game. I'd like to see him make a Pro Bowl this year for special team.

Kyle: With a franchise that historically has had so much success, there are several names that could be on the 'underappreciated' list. And just for context, I'm categorizing names that aren't in the Hall of Fame or the Ring of Honor. I'll start in the past where I think Danny White and the way he replaced Roger Staubach could be better recognized in the team's history. Other names like Nate Newton, Dan Nguyen, Sean Lee, Tony Romo, and Jim Jeffcoat are all up there. And I'm sure there's plenty more that I missed. As for the current roster, the first name I thought of was Zack Martin. Not to say Martin doesn't get any credit, but as good as he's been throughout his career, he could be appreciated more in the present. He won't be dominant forever, but it's easy for it to seem that way.

Do the Cowboys scouts keep an eye on the USFL games to see if there is anyone one that they may have missed or passed on that think maybe could be a help to the Cowboys? If so, how does that work if you want to sign one the USFL players? – WALTER DE BELL / TROY, NY

Nick: I talked to Will McClay this week about that very topic and he says they definitely have scouts checking out players in all other leagues, including the USFL. Once the season is officially over for the USFL, they will be come "street" free agents and could sign with any team. There might be a process they have to go through but they will eventually be allowed to sign with an NFL team. But I don't think there will be many players going that route to the NFL. It'll happen because they're in football shape. I would think when a player is injured at camp and a camp-body is needed, signing a player from the USFL makes sense because he'll be ready to play more than other guys sitting around all summer.

Kyle: The scouting department is usually on top of things when it comes to watching outside leagues and potential prospects all year round. There's a considerable amount of talent outside of the NFL, and these last few years have shown that with the XFL, the Alliance of American Football, and now the USFL. If there is a player worth scouting from these leagues, or even overseas, they'll get the attention necessary. There is a no-compete clause from USFL players being able to sign with other non-NFL leagues, but the NFL gets a pass on that. So, if a player signs an NFL deal, he'll have need to provide proof before the USFL team would release the player before signing normally.

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