Should Cowboys Pursue Asomugha?

It was less than two weeks ago that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones occupied his favorite spot — in the media spotlight — and assured the gathered reporters and everyone reading and watching the media's reports that things had changed at Valley Ranch.

No longer is he going to play fantasy football owner and go out and toss millions at every big-name free agent on the market.

Jones has reined in his spending in recent years, but not much. He still sees marquee names like Terrell Owens and Pacman Jones and Roy Williams and whips out his checkbook, or ships out draft picks to acquire those players. During the Cowboys' Super Bowl years of the 1990s, seemingly every player who could help the team get back to the sport's ultimate game was on Jones's shopping list. Defensive end Charles Haley? Go get him. Safety James Washington? Come on over.

But no free agent made more of a splash in Dallas than cornerback Deion Sanders, who was lured away from the then-rival San Francisco 49ers with a deal that, at the time, sent shockwaves throughout the NFL. On Sept. 9, 1995 — the second week of the season — Sanders inked a seven-year deal worth as much as $35 million. The $12.99 million signing bonus alone was viewed as staggeringly large by rival NFL executives. Some in the media mocked Jones for his overpaying ways.

Of course, the deal paid off.

Sanders was a huge star in Dallas, on and off the field, and the team continued to win, including the Super Bowl at the end of the 1995-96 season. The Cowboys won just one more playoff game during Sanders' remaining four years in Dallas, but just as important to Jones, Sanders was a marketing dream, a star player with a huge smile, huge mouth and huge talent. When he made a big play — and he made a lot of them — Sanders made sure the world knew about it. He drew TV cameras to Valley Ranch and fans to stadiums across the league. He sold jerseys and filmed national commercials.

Now there are whispers around the NFL that Jones might be eyeballing a player who he could be envisioning as The Next Sanders. Oakland Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who many consider the finest cornerback in the entire NFL, had the last year of his contract (2011) voided when he didn't reach certain incentives, and is going to be a free agent after the Super Bowl. Two years ago, Asomugha signed a three-year contract extension that was worth a reported $45 million — a deal that raised more than a few eyebrows at the time.

But while the contract earned skeptics leaguewide at the time, Asomugha will have no shortage of suitors, and word is Jones wants the Cowboys to be among them.

Just say no, Jerry.

That's not to belittle Asomugha's skills — he is an extraordinary talent. But there are several reasons such a deal would make no sense.

• The uncertainty around the collective bargaining agreement makes huge-money contracts a dicey proposition. Say Asomugha doesn't even match his salary of $15 million per season. Maybe he agrees to a deal with $12 million per … any deal to which he agrees will include a huge signing bonus, which means some team would be shelling out huge money to a guy who won't even play for a year. Yes, another team would do the same, but for a Dallas team that boasted the league's second-largest payroll and performed nowhere near the level of its perceived talent, doling out huge dollars to a cornerback would defy all logic.

• The Dallas secondary was much-maligned this season, but unless Asomugha can shore up the safety spots, too, he is not a one-man fix.

• The Cowboys have other needs. First and foremost, they need to address an offensive line that struggled in 2010 because of age and injuries. Somewhere between one and three starters could be replaced.

• Dallas could use several new defensive backs, especially at safety. Shrewd personnel evaluation could allow the Cowboys to add multiple players — either veteran free agents or via the draft — for the money it would take to sign Asomugha.

• Defensive ends Marcus Spears, Jason Hatcher and Stephen Bowen all played the 2010 season under one-year contracts. At least two, and maybe all three, need to be re-signed.

Asomugha is, without question, a superior talent. But committing the resources it would take to sign him would be foolish at this point for a team with several other questions that need to be answered.

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