Not bigger splashes, hopefully better ones

The Dallas Cowboys' personnel department, so often seemingly concerned with "making a splash,'' this time around seems instead focused on "making the same moves we've made before – only better.''

*What is Jon Kitna? A been-there/done-that veteran and a quality guy who can fit into most any system. So he's just like the departed Brad Johnson. … except "only better'' because Kitna, the former Lions starter, has more throwing velocity in his non-throwing arm than Brad has left in his hose.

*What is Keith Brooking? A face-of-the-franchise linebacker in his previous stop who might have one or two really good years left in him. Assuming the former Falcons institution makes the move back inside for Dallas, he figures to supplant Zach Thomas, the old Dolphin who brought some of the same attributes to Valley Ranch last season but seemed to run out of gas in the late going. Brooking played for coach Wade Phillips in Atlanta, so again, there is a familiarity with both system and personality.

*What is happening with the leadership thing? Jerry Jones is on record as suggesting that locker-room chemistry is an overrated issue, and not a problem with his club. But Kitna is a rally-around guy who comes with the endorsement of former Detroit teammate Roy Williams. And Brooking is an institution in Georgia thanks in part to his coach-on-the-field style.

*What is happening with safety Roy Williams? Is Dallas calling Cincinnati, or is Cincinnati calling Dallas? A move is brewing. … and while the ex-Oklahoma great can still be a fine NFL player in the right circumstances, Dallas is no longer the right circumstances. So the Cowboys seem to be "getting off the pot'' here.

*What is happening at cornerback? Rather than trying to accumulate celebrity names (like Pacman Jones) the Cowboys are opting to "coach ‘em up'' with kids Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick. Thus, their willingness to sacrifice Anthony Henry in the Kitna trade. (At least until a secondary vet is available on the cheap. See below.)

*What is happening with Terrell Owens? I still think Jerry – so often cryptic for no apparent reason – has been cryptic on the subject of T.O.'s future in Dallas for a very specific reason: That future is fluid.

*What is happening with the crazy spending? Make that the crazy overspending. It has been a Jones trademark over the years; when he sees something he wants, he rarely asks, "How much is that doggie in the window?'' Instead, he gives up a couple of No. 1's for Joey Galloway.

But check out the dollars and sense on Brooking and Kitna. The linebacker gets a three-year deal but with only $2.5 million guaranteed. With some juggling of the books and Henry's departure, the QB actually means a cap savings for Dallas.

You know what can happen here, don't you? Dallas has filled some needs early, and will still have a few coins left under the couch cushions to pick up a bargain or two once buyers begin drying up. If you've saved money with Henry's departure and if you move Williams, you can be a player in the developing buyer's market for solid DBs.

*What is happening with "big-splash'' types Julius Peppers and Ray Lewis? Both superstar defenders have long expressed the lifetime dream of being Cowboys. And while the Cowboys need to remain "fluid'' and need to search for bargains, the priority on matters like those must to be to not just "make a deal'' but to "win a deal.

None of this is especially innovative or league-shaking. All of these moves, really, are variations on moves made before. Only, hopefully, this time they'll work.

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