The Cowboys are operating in free agency with an approach to paying for the future instead of the past.
That was the message coach Jason Garrett delivered in explaining an offseason in which the Cowboys allowed their top two defensive players, DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher, to leave in free agency.
“You’re always trying to build your team for now and for going forward,” Garrett said at the owners meetings in Orlando. “You don’t want to build your team based on what they’ve done in the past. It’s based on what they can do now for your team and what they can do going forward for your team.
“That’s not a commentary on anyone we’ve let go. We feel like DeMarcus Ware has a lot of good football left in him. We feel like Jason Hatcher has a lot of good football left in him. Those are the two marquee guys we’re talking about. But we had to make an organizational decision in a salary-cap era, given our salary–cap circumstances.”
Garrett’s comments are in line with executive vice president Stephen Jones’ thoughts earlier in the offseason, when he said the Cowboys are moving away from giving big-money guarantees to players in their 30s.
Garrett said deciding when to let premier players -- “players that have been really, really good for you for a long time,” as he described them -- leave is the biggest challenge an organization has.
“We love DeMarcus Ware. He’s been a great player for our franchise and an amazing thing for our organization on and off the field,” Garrett said. “But there are a lot of factors that go into deciding what you want to do with him going forward. He’s someone we want to have on our football team. Jason Hatcher is somebody we want to have on our football team. But again, when you factor in some of the other things you have to, when you’re making those kinds of decisions, we decided it was in our best interest to allow them to leave for the dollars that they got and to move forward.
“We try to get younger and try to continue to build our football team with different kinds of players –- younger players.”
-- Carlos Mendez