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4 Contracts the Cowboys Will Need to Extend

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My latest “Running the Numbers” examines four players the Cowboys will need to consider signing long-term:

In late October 2012, the Cowboys made a shrewd business decision that flew under the radar when they signed safety Barry Church to a contract extension. The move was made after Church had torn his Achilles’ tendon. So how in the world could locking Church up to a long-term deal be a smart move? Well, Church’s perceived worth was at its lowest point. The Cowboys knew they wanted to keep him in Dallas, so giving him a deal after he suffered a season-ending injury allowed the team to secure the maximum amount of value.

The best teams around the league continually employ such a strategy, signing players before they break out as opposed to waiting until they produce (thus forcing you to pay a premium). Such contract decisions are perhaps the top area in which advanced stats can aid teams; in predicting future stars before they become stars, organizations can more effectively manage their salary cap.

You can’t always “buy low” on players, however. Sometimes, you need to pay a player who has produced at a high level. However, the signing should never be because of that past production. Contracts aren’t rewards. They’re predictions. In signing a player long term, teams are effectively placing a bet on the future success of a player. The bigger the deal, the better he must play. It’s not enough to sign talented players; you need to sign them at the right prices.

That’s why age is such an important factor in contracts. A running back might very well produce quality numbers in his late-20s, but if you shell out big bucks to him in hopes that he’ll repeat his performance into his 30s, you’re going to get burned. With that said, let’s take a look at four players the Cowboys should at least consider signing long term.

1. Bruce Carter – Free Agent in 2015

Carter broke out somewhat last season, but he stilled played only 11 games. In his two-year career, Carter has totaled just 78 tackles, zero sacks, zero forced fumbles, zero fumble recoveries and zero interceptions. But we all know the 25-year-old is a really talented linebacker who has the potential to erupt as the Will in Monte Kiffin’s defense. The signs of success are there. The money to sign Carter might not be available with some other deals on the horizon, but he’s a player to monitor.

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