By the end of 2011, fans and media had turned on Terence Newman, once considered among a handful of the team's best players. The change of opinion was all too predictable.
It happens every year, a player's skills declining at the same time their salary accelerates, to the point where it is simply not logical to keep them on the team at such a price. Typically, fans have soured on the player well before the axe finally falls.
Newman will eventually be remembered for what he was most of these past nine seasons - a very good cover man. Only at the tail end of his run did injuries and a loss of speed drop him into true mediocrity. Right now, though, that's all anyone remembers.
The same holds true for many of the guys released last offseason, Marion Barber, Leonard Davis, Marc Colombo and yes, even the receiver Roy Williams, whose jersey was a hot buy back in 2008 and 2009.
Flozell Adams, Terrell Owens and the safety Roy Williams all met a similar fate, the Cowboys ultimately releasing them and eating a significant portion of their contract just to have them go away. The team deserves a lot of the blame in these instances, because it's the front office which cut the checks. Barber didn't make the Cowboys guarantee him $20 million.
It would be hard to predict which players will age more rapidly than expected, but the size of some deals suggest more risk.
In the eyes of many fans, Tony Romo will never be worth his salary, even though it's half of what some quarterbacks are making.
Another injury-filled season for Miles Austin should have the Cowboys wondering whether to go forward with the remainder of his $54 million contract. Doug Free got a four-year, $32 million deal last year, and promptly played his way out of the starting left tackle job.
What about Jason Witten and Jay Ratliff, each of whom are over 30 now, and each of whom signed five-year extensions just before the 2011 season.
A lot of people are already questioning the long-term money doled out to cornerback Orlando Scandrick and safety Gerald Sensabaugh, and the decision to franchise outside linebacker Anthony Spencer was a controversial one, though the Cowboys aren't committed to him past 2012.
As of now, the player who appears to be most in danger of being let go before the season is veteran defensive end Kenyon Coleman. The Cowboys would save $1.9 million by letting him go, and seem to like their depth on the line.
Which players are most in danger of falling out of favor during the upcoming season?