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March 11, 2013

Cowboys have gotten little out of the $24.75 million in guarantees they gave seven free agents last year

The Cowboys, after a flurry of moves Monday, have roughly $1 million in cap room. It isn't enough to do much of anything when free agency officially begins at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

That isn't a bad thing.

This time last year the Cowboys were being lauded for their franchise-record seven free-agent signings worth $24.75 million in guaranteed money. In the year since, they've proved, yet again, that good football teams are built through the draft, not free agency.

Here are how the seven free agents fared for the Cowboys in 2012:

S Brodney Pool -- Pool barely made it to training camp before he was released. He failed his conditioning test, and after eventually passing it, was taking snaps with the second-team defense when he was released early in camp. He did not play in the NFL last season. Pool cost the Cowboys only $100,000 in guaranteed money on a one-year, $1.2 million contract.

LB Dan Connor -- He arrived via a two-year, $6.5 million contract, including $2.7 million to sign, on the same day as Pool, brought in to compete with Bruce Carter for the starting job. Carter won the job, though Connor did end up starting eight games after Sean Lee and Carter both were lost to season-ending injuries. Connor played 340 plays and made 58 tackles.

QB Kyle Orton -- The Cowboys signed Ortonto a three-year, $10.5 million deal, including a $5 million signing bonus. He was Tony Romo's only backup last season and completed 9 of 10 passes for 89 yards and a touchdown, appearing in mop-up duty, 11 plays, in a blowout loss to the Bears.

CB Brandon Carr -- He was the jewel in the team's free-agency class, signing a five-year, $50.1 million deal. Of that, $26.5 million was guaranteed, including $10 million to sign. Carr started all 16 games and played 1,011plays, off the field for only 18 plays. He made 62 tackles, had 11 pass breakups and made three interceptions. Opposing QBs targeted Carr 88 times and he allowed 51 catches for 786 yards and four touchdowns, according to STATS, Inc.

RG Mackenzy Bernadeau -- He played every snap -- all 1,107 -- after signing a four-year, $11.5 million deal with $3.25 million in the form of a signing bonus. Bernadeau started two games at center when Phil Costa and Ryan Cook both were injured, and the other 14 at right guard. He could be tried at center this season, depending on what the Cowboys do this off-season. Bernadeau had two holding penalties and he allowed 6.5 sacks, according to STATS, Inc.

LG Nate Livings -- He signed a five-year, $18.75 million deal that included $3.5 million to sign. The total guaranteed money was $6.2 million. Livings played 1,100 of 1,007 plays, starting every game. He was called for one holding penalty and allowed five sacks, according to STATS, Inc.

FB Lawrence Vickers -- He signed a two-year, $2.4 million contact that included a $200,000 signing bonus. Vickers played 299 offensive snaps, getting 16 touches and 115 yards. The Cowboys had the fewest yards in a 16-game season in team history with 1,265.

-- Charean Williams








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