Filling Needs Via Free Agency

The first week of free agency under Bill Parcells has been highlighted by the Cowboys' ability to fill needs and stock the roster with veterans familiar with Parcells' coaching style. Of the five players signed and/or acquired by the Cowboys, three have direct ties to Parcells.

Including right tackle Ryan Young, fullback Richie Anderson and receiver Terry GlennThe two others -- left tackle Flozell Adams and punter Toby Gowin -- were must haves. The Cowboys had to re-sign Adams because they had no alternative at left tackle and they rewarded him with a five-year, $25 million deal that includes a $10 million signing bonus. Considering the team's poor punting last year, they needed Gowin as well. Being in Dallas was where he wanted to be after three years in New Orleans. Gowin began his career with the Cowboys and never wanted to leave. But the team's salary philosophy that dictated that they go with bargain basement kickers forced him out three years ago. Parcells has changed that attitude because of the importance he places special teams.

Familiarity was at the root of the decisions with the other three players. Parcells coached Anderson and Young when he was with the Jets from 1997-1999. Young spent the first three years of his career in New York before going to Houston last season. Glenn, who was acquired in a trade with Green Bay last week, played for Parcells when both were with the Patriots.

"It's a great fit for me," Anderson said. "I felt comfortable with the situation and being with Coach Parcells and Coach Carthon. They were factors in my decision. I just want to come in and help this team win a championship."

Anderson will compete with Jamar Martin for the starting job at fullback and will also make an impact as a third-down back.

The 6-foot-1, 230-pounder is a solid blocker but receiving is his forte. Anderson has 2,449 career receiving yards with 10 touchdowns and 722 career rushing yards and two touchdowns. In his Pro Bowl season of 2000, Anderson had 88 catches for 853 yards and two touchdowns and rushed 27 times for 63 yards.

Though he has spent his entire career in New York, Anderson doesn't foresee any problems transitioning to Dallas because he already knows what to expect from Parcells.

"I know what he brings to the table," Anderson said. "I know his passion and what he expects out of the team. He is a coach who wants to win and he expects you to work hard and have a winning heart."

That knowledge is also what partly attracted the Cowboys to him, Young and Glenn. Parcells hopes the players will help spread his philosophy in the locker room and on the practice field.

"Those are things I know and I am sure they were factors in him wanting to bring me to Dallas," Anderson said.

Their knowledge of Parcells however does not supersede their playing ability. Unlike Anderson and Glenn, who both give Parcells options at their respective positions, Young fills a void. He will step in immediately at right tackle in place of the departed Solomon Page.

Young joins Adams and left guard Larry Allen as the three anchors of the line. The Cowboys like what they got from center Tyson Walter and right guard Andre Gurode at the end of last season and plan to keep them at those respective spots in 2003.

Young said Tuesday that he is fully recovered from the groin and knee injuries that limited him to just eight starts last season with the Texans. The four-year veteran started 40 straight games from 1999-2001 when he was the Jets before going to Houston in 2002.

Young said he looking forward to playing for Cowboys coach Bill Parcells again. Parcells drafted Young in the seventh round out of Kansas State when he coached the Jets in 1999.

"He was a big factor in me coming here," Young said. "He's an honest man. He demands a lot but he gives a lot. He's a lot like my college coach (Bill Snyder). I'm excited."

What's even more exciting to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was the affordability of their two tackles.

Despite Adams' sticker shock signing bonus of $10 million, the 2003 combined cap value for Adams ($2.5 million) and Young ($1.2 million) is $3.7 million. Consider that Adams counted $4.92 million alone last season.

Jones said their goal in free agency was to fill needs but also get good value in the deals.

Their inability to overcome what they felt was a value discrepancy was the reason they lost out on free-agent quarterback Jake Delhomme. The former Saints quarterback, who has only two career starts, signed with the Panthers Wednesday for $4 million over two years.

Parcells is still interested bringing in another quarterback to give him an "option" other than holdovers Quincy Carter and Chad Hutchinson. However, the Cowboys may now wait until after the draft to resume their quarterback search.

-- Receiver Raghib Ismail, who was released by the Cowboys two weeks ago, will not play with another team and plans to retire, a source said Tuesday.

Ismail had been talking to the Redskins about signing a free-agent contract but informed them on Tuesday that he planned to retire.

According to a source, Ismail said he's ready to move on with his life.

The nine-year veteran missed all of last season after undergoing neck surgery in training camp. But had hopes of resuming his career in 2003.

Now he will likely concentrate on a gospel music career and sports broadcasting.

Ismail, who was a Heisman Trophy winner at Notre Dame, played with the Raiders and Panthers before joining the Cowboys in 1999.

He finished his career with 363 catches for 5,295 yards and 28 touchdowns. His best season in Dallas was his first in 1999 when he caught 80 passes for 1,097 yards and six touchdowns. That year he became the first player to lead the Cowboys in receiving other than Michael Irvin since Kelvin Martin in 1990. He was sidelined midway through the 2000 season by a knee injury but bounced back in 2001 to lead the Cowboys in receptions (53) and yards (834).

-- The Arizona Cardinals have thrown their name in the hat for Emmitt Smith, with the NFL's all-time leading rusher expected to visit the desert next Wednesday. Arizona thinks Smith will help lagging tickets sales, considering the huge Cowboys fan base in Phoenix. They also believe he could beat out holdovers Marcel Shipp and Thomas Jones for the starting job.

The Carolina Panthers are interested in Smith as well, especially after releasing veteran Lamar Smith Wednesday.

Panthers head coach John Fox admitted the club is looking at former Washington running back Stephen Davis, as well as Smith.

"It's definitely a possibility," Fox said. "I think Emmitt has great leadership skills and he's going to be a Hall of Fame player and he has a lot he can bring to the table both as a player and a leader.

"We have a lot of interest in a lot of different players at this point, and Emmitt is one of them."

-- The San Antonio City Council instructed staff in executive session Thursday to finalize a deal with the Cowboys that will bring the team's training camp to the Alamodome the next two summers.

The tentative agreement, which calls for the city to pay the Cowboys $900,000 from hotel tax collections and provide rent-free use of the dome, was negotiated last week by council members Bobby Perez and Carroll Schubert and Cowboys representative Bruce Bugg.

"There was a general agreement (among council members) that this is a good plan to move forward with," Perez said Thursday. "Right now, I believe it will be done. Hopefully, we can get the document signed to finalize it."

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