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Dallas Cowboys earn praise for doling out team-friendly contracts

The Dallas Cowboys haven’t always made popular decisions with their salary cap dollars in recent years but they have made some smart ones.

DALLAS — Since Stephen Jones has taken on a more influential role with the roster construction and management of the Dallas Cowboys, the team has been better at managing the salary cap.

Although the results are frustrating for fans every offseason, when the team plays it safe during free agency while other teams are aggressive in their pursuits, the way the Cowboys have kept premier talent under contract while staying competitive for NFC East titles is to be commended.

According to Brad Spielberger of Pro Football Focus, who put together the top-32 team-favoring contracts in the NFL, the Cowboys had three players make the list, tied with the Baltimore Ravens for the most. The best contract for the Cowboys was left tackle Tyron Smith with his eight-year, $97.6 million deal with two years, $28.1 million in cash remaining.

"Smith has at times battled injuries over the past few years, unfortunately including at the end of the 2021 season when he earned his lowest grade of the season against the San Francisco 49ers in the wild-card round," Spielberger writes. "However, whenever he steps on the field at close to 100% health, he stonewalls opposing pass rushers with ease, and his dominance in all facets of the game is apparent."

The DeMarcus Lawrence contract ranked No. 21 as the defensive end was signed to a three-year, $40 million deal with $30 million guaranteed.

Receiver Michael Gallup signed a five-year, $57.5 million contract in the offseason with $27 million in total guarantees. The team might have to wait to start reaping the benefits of that deal, however, as the former 2018 third-round pick from Colorado State continues to work his way back from a torn ACL sustained on Jan. 2, 2022, in a Week 17 tilt with the Arizona Cardinals.

Part of why the Cowboys made the list is because of the value the organization places on retaining their homegrown players, such as Smith, Lawrence, and Gallup.

“In general, from a money standpoint, if I’m looking into a crystal ball right now, I see most of our money that would go in free agency going toward our current players," Jones told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Feb. 28. "Doesn’t mean that won’t change. We might come across a value on a player that we say, ‘hey, it’s just one we got to take.’ I don’t want to rule it out. But in general we go to our players and then we have to be efficient in the draft in terms of improving the team.”

Across the rest of the NFC East, the Philadelphia Eagles were the only other team on the list with tackle Jordan Mailata at No. 1 and tight end Dallas Goedert at No. 31.

Do you think the Cowboys have been doing a good job of managing their contracts? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.


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