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Mailbag: Spending Debate? Lewis' Outlook?

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Cowboys brass sign third-tier free agents. Why not sign a stud or two instead of four or five benchwarmers? You get what you pay for in life. — ZEKE CORTEZ / SAN ANTONIO, TX

David: With the Dak Prescott debate behind us, there's no doubt that this is the biggest argument surrounding the Cowboys right now. The bottom line is that they don't want to. The Cowboys believe you get burned by overpaying for production in free agency, and they'd rather build the core pieces of their roster through the draft. I would argue that you need a little bit of both to put together a roster that can contend, but they don't ever ask for my opinion. There's still time for them to make some meaningful additions in free agency, so maybe they will. But history suggests they're going to do so while trying to keep the spending to a minimum.

Rob: Their strategy is second wave. It's beyond well documented. Been that way for at least a decade. The front office believes that early in free agency you're usually overpaying good players with great money. They want to draft well and then use the core of their cap space to re-sign the cornerstone players to second contracts. I do think it's worth noting that this year in particular, they've got a ton of areas to address under a tighter cap, even though they can always create more space by restructuring more deals. And this year in particular, the league's cap crunch means the second and third waves might include more productive players than we're used to seeing at those stages of free agency. Stay tuned – it's not over yet.

I believe we kept Jourdan Lewis because we are thin at cornerback, but a three-year deal seems excessive for him. From what I have seen, he gets beat a lot and causes crucial penalties. He has to be toward the top of the penalty list for our defense. Do you think it was a mistake to commit to him for three years? Follow up question, is there a better way to use him to our advantage? — JACOB DAVIS / LAFAYETTE, IN

David: It's important to remember that NFL deals are all about the guarantees, not the years. Jourdan's deal is for three years, but it's not big enough that it would force the Cowboys to keep him around in 2022 or 2023 if they don't want to. He does need to clean up the penalties, but he's an experienced and versatile starter who has spent a lot of time in a scheme that's very similar to Dan Quinn's. I hope Quinn gives him a chance to play more on the outside, but either way I think he's a solid piece of the depth chart, especially if the front office spends a big draft pick on a rookie cornerback – which I think they will.

Rob: Beyond the contract details that Dave outlined, the Cowboys value Jourdan Lewis' toughness and competitiveness and the fact that he's a really good teammate. All those things matter for a defense that obviously struggled to find its way until the last few games of the season. I still expect the Cowboys to look at cornerback in the draft because it always comes down to drafting the best players available based on your board. But Lewis can help them. Down the stretch, he was probably the best cornerback on the team.

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