At cornerback, the team let its No. 3 and 4 cornerbacks -- Jacques Reeves and Nate Jones -- walk in free agency.
This after a season in which aging starters Anthony Henry and Terence Newman shuffled in and out of the starting lineup because of injuries.
At running back, the Cowboys began the offseason with no proven back under contract. They let starter Julius Jones leave for Seattle in free agency and, while they offered Marion Barber a one-year tender of $2.56 million as a restricted free agent -- and the promise of becoming the starter in 2008 -- he skipped the offseason program holding out for a new contract.
On Tuesday, owner Jerry Jones cleared up the future at cornerback and running back to a large degree, when he doled out $95.2 million in contracts to Newman and Barber.
It was the most expensive business day since Jones bought the team in 1989 for $140 million.
Newman got a six-year contract extension for $50.2 million, including a $16 million signing bonus.
Barber will sign a seven-year, $45 million contract that includes a $16 million signing bonus.
Add these deals to what the Cowboys did on draft day -- adding five players at those two positions via the draft and trades -- and running back and cornerback have gone from positions of doubt, if not weakness, to two of the strongest positions on the team.
Even though Barber was unsigned, the Cowboys went into the draft looking to find players to complement him. The found what Jones views as the perfect change of pace in speedy running back Felix Jones in the first round and also picked up do-everything back Tashard Choice in the fourth round.
Jones has blazing speed to complement Barber's bulldozing style, while Choice will serve as the every-down backup to Barber.
The bottom line for the Cowboys is that the offense will start with Barber -- who was a first-time Pro Bowler last season. It was important to sign him to a long-term deal and keep him around. And although Barber has been asked to share the load in the past, the Cowboys believe he can be a featured back.
"There is a belief he is the type back that can carry that kind of load and if need be, be the primary back," Jerry Jones said. "We drafted (Felix Jones) because we wanted a back to complement Marion Barber so it was important to have Marion Barber in the future. That's what we got ... I'm glad he really came in."
At cornerback, Newman's deal was just the icing on the cake. He was already under contract for next season but as the lead dog at the position, the Cowboys wanted to lock him up long term. The Cowboys traded for suspended Titans cornerback Pacman Jones and drafted Mike Jenkins in the first round and Orlando Scandrick in the fifth round.
Not only has the position been upgraded from last season, owner Jerry Jones said the team is as strong at cornerback as it ever has been during his time here, and that includes the Deion Sanders era Cowboys.
"First, certainly it is something that we had planned on to extend and have Terence Newman here at this stage of his career," Jones said. "He's one of the people that should give our fans a lot of excitement about the future. That position for us right now is one of the reasons now I can get excited about this team because a healthy Terence Newman, a healthy Anthony Henry, the two draft picks that we have, as well as what my expectations for what we can get from Pacman in terms of a player. It gives us as strong position at corner than we've ever been in."
--QB Tony Romo has been criticized this offseason for playing too much golf and partying too much in Hollywood with girlfriend Jessica Simpson, but Romo pulled out of the Pro-Am at the Colonial Golf tournament on Wednesday to attend an OTA practice session.
--SS Roy Williams missed OTAs this week because of a family vacation.
--CB Orlando Scandrick missed the first three days of OTAs with a left eye infection.
--The Cowboys are currently over their roster limit. Once they sign all the rookie draft picks, they will have to make four cuts before the start of training camp.
--Quarterback Tony Romo and guard Leonard Davis restructured their contracts to clear salary cap room. The extra space allowed the Cowboys to sign running back Marion Barber and cornerback Terence Newman to long-term deals. The Cowboys turned the base salaries from this season and next season into bonuses for Romo and Davis.
In doing so, the Cowboys saved $3 million on the salary cap this year and $8 million in 2009.
--The Cowboys tried to get a deal done with safety Ken Hamlin Tuesday just as they did with Barber and Newman but the two sides could not come to an agreement.
The Cowboys designated Hamlin their franchise player in February to keep him at least through next season and allow time to negotiate a long-term contract. Hamlin has been given a one-year franchise tender of $4 million.
He has stayed away from offseason workouts and OTAs because of the contract situation.
--CB Adam Jones has moved to Dallas.
He passed his physical to make the trade from Tennessee to Dallas official, and he has already begun bonding with his teammates.
The final step is being allowed to practice with the team and then being reinstated to the league by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
"I think the commissioner will, at some point, evaluate where this thing has gone with Adam over the last several months and we'll see where that goes from there," owner Jerry Jones said.
"It's his (Goodell) decision-making but I'm not going to speculate there. I wouldn't comment about my conversations with the league about Adam. Obviously, we've been in communication with the league because we've had to work through contracts. We've had to do several things. Now, he has done his medical, his physical, he cleared that with flying colors, so any of that factor relative to the trade with Tennessee is no longer a factor."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "As I look ahead I want Terrell (Owens) on the team. So when you say timeframe, I can look past this year and into years in the future and want Terrell as a part of the Cowboys. But it's not surprising to me that we don't have something worked out on a long-term contractual basis with Terrell. I'm very comfortable. When he came here, we had a good feeling about the financial aspect of how to work through with him and feel good. I have a good feeling of trust with him." -- Owner Jerry Jones on why he is not worried that receiver Terrell Owens will cause a problem if he is not given a new contract before the season.
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