(Editor's Note: From the home office in Irving, Texas, DallasCowboys.com has this week's top 10 list, a ranking of the team's smartest re-signings and contract extensions in the salary cap era, as selected by the website writing staff – Nick Eatman, Rob Phillips and Josh Ellis. New countdowns will debut periodically on Fridays.)
During this seemingly dead period of the NFL offseason, the Cowboys front office is like a duck – placid on the surface, but paddling like crazy beneath it.
Behind closed doors at Valley Ranch, a small army of coaches, scouts, statisticians, cap-ologists and front office decision makers are analyzing from all angles the choices the team must make on its own class of free agents-to-be. Outside linebacker Anthony Spencer and wide receiver Laurent Robinson have received the most attention, but key contributors such as safety Abram Elam, tight end Martellus Bennett and guard Montrae Holland also are due to hit the open market.
Since the modern era of free agency and the salary cap began in 1993, the Cowboys have had their share of hits and misses when doling out deals to their own players. In recent years, contract extensions for guys like Terrell Owens, Ken Hamlin, Marion Barber and others have turned out to be ill advised.
But the club has also found a number of bargains, dating back to the 1990s dynasty and including a handful of guys on the current roster.
These are the kind of moves the front office must hope to duplicate, the 10 best deals the Cowboys have made to hang onto their own talent since 1993:
10. DeMarcus Ware
It's a bit hard to conceive the highest-paid player on the team, and highest-paid defender in the league at the time of the signing, as a bargain, but Ware has completely lived up to the seven-year, $79 million contract he received midway through the 2009 season. Ware actually took a bit of a hometown discount, as his $40 million in guaranteed money was less than Albert Haynesworth received from Washington the previous spring. Ware has never missed a game, accruing 99.5 sacks in seven seasons.