Newman Making an Impact

"We think we are putting the pieces together to have one of the better young secondaries in the NFL," Jerry Jones said. "In the years we have won Super Bowls, the cornerback position was always very solid for the Dallas Cowboys. The last years have certainly taught us how difficult it is to find great corners."

It has been more than a decade since the Cowboys began training camp without all their draft picks in the fold. And after Thursday's signing of cornerback Terence Newman, the team's top pick, and agreement with center Al Johnson, that trend continued.

Newman received a seven-year, $33.4 million deal that included $13,001,000 in guaranteed bonus money. Newman is expected to move into the starting lineup at cornerback and become the shutdown defender the Cowboys have coveted since Deion Sanders left after the 1999 season.

Johnson agreed to a four-year deal worth $3.19 million with a $1.82 million signing bonus. His base salaries will be $225,000 in 2003, $305,000 in 2004, $380,000 in 2005 and $460,000 in 2006.

"I am happy to be part of the Cowboys," Newman said. "There was no doubt in my mind that I would be here on time. It was important to come in on time to continue to build on our chemistry before we are thrown into the line of fire. Rookies go through enough with the veterans and the little things they do to you, so I didn't want to be late and have people look at me and think that I was too good to be here."

Newman's first-year base salary is $1.111 million, and his first-year salary-cap value is roughly $2.39 million. His bonus will be paid in two lump sums, $6.501 million Thursday and $6.5 million in March.

The extra $1,000 on the bonus accomplished two goals. It allowed Newman's bonus money to top that of Jets defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson, who received a $13 million bonus as the fourth pick in the draft. And it kept owner Jerry Jones away from unlucky 13.

"When we signed Deion Sanders, the bonus was $12,999,000," Jones said. "I'm superstitious about 13, although it is my birthday. Terence's bonus is actually $13,001,000, to keep it off dead center."

While Newman's agent, David Ware, didn't get the escalator clauses he had wanted, he negotiated a final-year salary of $15 million and playing-time incentives that will force the Cowboys to void the contract at six years.

"We had very intense, professional negotiations," Ware said. "Obviously, anytime you get a $13 million signing bonus it takes some time. We would have preferred to have been done earlier. Terence was insistent with me that he be on time and that the deal be fair. We were able to accomplish both goals, so we are very pleased about that."

Jones said he's eager to watch the former Kansas State standout grow in the secondary along with second-year starters Derek Ross (cornerback) and Roy Williams (safety).

"We think we are putting the pieces together to have one of the better young secondaries in the NFL," Jones said. "In the years we have had our most success, when we won Super Bowls, the cornerback position was always very solid for the Dallas Cowboys. The last years have taught us how difficult it is to find great corners and how valuable they really are."

Getting Johnson signed early was also crucial for the Cowboys, because they expect him to compete for a starting role as a rookie.

* When the Cowboys signed third-round draft pick Jason Witten and fourth-round pick Bradie James, they cut kicker Ola Kimrin and safety Keith Davis to reach roster limit.

There is more, not to mention, a moral to this story.

The biggest reason Davis' name is included is because he disobeyed an edict by coach Bill Parcells. The players were instructed specifally by Parcells to not go to strip clubs. Davis suffered multiple gunshot wounds outside a Dallas topless club last month.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said a couple of weeks ago the incident might cost Davis his spot.

They had to cut two players because Witten and James finally are under contract, meaning the Cowboys start practice this morning with all of their draft picks signed. Their deals took slightly longer because the Cowboys had to get creative after giving No. 1 pick Terence Newman a $13,001,000 signing bonus.

Witten signed a four-year deal worth $2.04 million, including a $670,000 signing bonus. The fourth year is voided if minimum playing time numbers are met, but the Cowboys have the option to buy back that year.

James signed a five-year, $2.33 million deal with a $415,000 signing bonus. His deal also can be voided to three years with playing time incentives, with the Cowboys holding the right to buy back the fourth year.

BATTLE OF THE WEEK: Quincy Carter vs. Chad Hutchinson for starting QB -- The two player splitting reps in practice and will split starts in the first two preseason games. Hutchinson has looked a little better over the first couple of days of camp but that evaluation should ebb and flow every day. The Cowboys' goal is the find the one who will get them in the end zone the most.

OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: CB Mario Edwards vs. Terence Newman: Edwards knows Newman is the bonus baby rookie but he has looked the best so far in camp;

C Al Johnson vs. C Tyson Walter: Johnson is the rookie the cowboys drafted to be the team's long-term answer at the position. However, Walter is working with the first team early in camp.

HANGING AROUND: S Woody Dantzler -- Cowboys coach Bill Parcells likes Dantzler, who he believes has Dave Meggett-like game-breaking return skills. However, Parcells said Dantzler must prove he can do other things. He must show that he can tackle as a safety and on coverage teams. He is also being used as the fullback on the punt team, giving the Cowboys flexible options for fake punts.

ROOKIE REPORT: CB Terence Newman has showed flashes early in camp but continues to play behind Mario Edwards...C Al Johnson has had trouble with the exchange with the quarterbacks....TE Jason Witten has looked good so far but don't expect him to unseat Dan Campbell or Tony McGee for the starting job.

INJURY REPORT: Receiver Antonio Bryant traveled to Dallas Sunday morning to have bone chips taken from his left pinky finger. He returned for the afternoon workout Sunday and made several specatular receptions.

CowboysHQ Top Stories