Grading The New Cowboys: Bernadeau

The Dallas Cowboys haven't signed a marquee player yet, but in the early stages of free agency, they have been anything but boring.

While football fans everywhere watched (whether they wanted to or not) the "where will Peyton Manning go?" saga, the Cowboys have quietly added seven veteran free agents — some of whom are expected to play significant roles right away.

Fans often look at free agent signings like they do a fantasy football draft, often preferring the splashy acquisition of a big-name player. But that doesn't always equate to on-field success, as smart teams have to balance roster needs with the quality of available players, the cost and length of the contracts required to sign them (numbers affected, of course, by the number of other teams pursuing each player) and how much room each team is available under the salary cap.

With those criteria in mind, how have the Cowboys done during the initial stages of free agency?

• Guard Mackenzy Bernadeau signed a four-year contract worth an estimated $11 million after spending the first four years of his career with the Carolina Panthers, for whom he was mostly a reserve (starting 20 of 47 career games, including one of 15 in which he played last year).

The 6-foot-4-inch, 308-pound Bernadeau, 26, is fairly athletic and versatile enough to play either guard spot, and could contribute on special teams.

Grade: B- It's hardly a high-sizzle signing, but Bernadeau signed for relatively low money, can offer depth (if not start) at either guard spot and plays a position of need, especially after the subsequent release of veteran Kyle Kosier.

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