In recent years, cowboys have drawn many fans to anger over their ultra-conservative approach to free agency. In many ways, it’s the course correction for the days when Jerry Jones would freely spend big bucks on valued free agents, many of whom rarely panned out. The duo Stephen Jones and Will McClay are determined to avoid these pitfalls and build through the draft, with free agency acting as a complement to their home-court talent.
While this approach has cost the Cowboys some really good players – Byron Jones comes to mind – it has also prevented them from paying too much to keep some guys like DeMarco Murray as well as avoiding some expensive balls in free agency, such as Nnamdi Asomugha. And that fact is clear again, as Kristopher Knox from Bleaching report prepared a list of each NFL team’s most overpaid player heading into the 2021 season.
It is worth noting that the most overpaid player for the Cowboys, according to Knox, was not really a surprising choice: Ezekiel Elliott. Knox’s reasoning was that second relegation contracts rarely expire, and Elliott’s worst statistical season of his career actually came in the first year of his second contract, which was this past season.
But after reviewing the rest of the list, there were three names that stood out as players whose current overpaid contracts were earned as a direct result of their time in Dallas. The first example is the most recent example, and that is Cameron Erving. After spending 2020 with the Cowboys, Erving signed a two-year deal with the Panthers worth $ 10 million, which does not look like much much. But $ 8 million of that is guaranteed, and that came after a season in which Erving appeared in just six games and ended the year on injured reserve. Compared to his recent game, the Panthers’ Erving gave much more than Dallas or any other team was willing to hand out.
Next on the list was Texans wide receiver Randall Cobb, who enjoyed a bit of a career boom with the Cowboys in 2019 and put together 828 yards and three touchdowns as the team’s slot receiver in Kellen Moore’s first year as offensive coordinator. The subsequent hiring of Mike McCarthy, the only head coach Cobb had known before coming to Dallas, made it seem likely that the Cowboys would bring Cobb back on a team-friendly deal, especially after Cobb talked a lot about McCarthy’s hiring in Dallas .
But Houston offered the soon-to-be 30-year-old a three-year deal worth a total of $ 27 million with $ 18 million guaranteed, and Cobb took it smartly without hesitation. The Cowboys ended up drafting CeeDee Lamb to fill Cobb’s slot recipient role, and he surpassed Cobb’s 2019 numbers at a fraction of the price. Cobb, on the other hand, could not recreate the magic of Houston. Cobb came out in 10 games and averaged just 441 yards and three touchdowns. He is now entering year two with the Texans facing a new coaching staff and a very precarious situation under the center, but at least he is getting paid well.
The final former Cowboy on the list is Robert Quinn, arguably the best bargain hit in the Stephen Jones era. The Cowboys traded a sixth round to get Quinn off Dolphins, who also ate part of his salary to sweeten the deal. As a 29-year-old, Quinn did not seem to have much left in mind, and it was a long time since his 19 sacks season in 2013. Quinn then broke his hand in training camp and was suspended for the first two games of the season.
It did not stop him. Quinn finished with 11.5 sacks, which was good for the ninth in the league, and he also led the NFL in the pass-rush win for an EDGE defender, while doubling the team to an above-average. Of course, Quinn earned his career resurgence, and Dallas chose not to sign this check. Instead, it was Chicago Bears, whose signing of Quinn was considered a home run to pair him with Khalil Mack, even though they gave him a five-year deal, $ 70 million with a guaranteed $ 30 million. Needless to say, Quinn’s 2020 season fell well below expectations as he finished with just two sacks. Now it looks like Chicago is planning to use him less to get more out of him:
“I also think it will be balancing reps and timeliness by getting him to play in the right situations where he can be the best,” said foreign linebackers coach Bill Shuey, per. Gene Chamberlain from Bear Digest. “There’s some work to be done there, and Rob knows it.”
Of the three, Quinn may have been the biggest disappointment, but each player represents a case in which the Cowboys’ reluctance to pay too much, even for productive players, has prevented them from getting into a bad situation. It has obviously not made them immune to handing out bad contracts, but their most overpaid player on this list is much more productive than some of the others who were here. It must count for something.