IRVING, Texas - If you heard a collective sigh coming from the halls of Valley Ranch on Wednesday, it was the Cowboys simply taking a deep breath after a rather intense two days of free agency this week.
The Cowboys signed three players, including offensive lineman Leonard Davis, who received a $16 million signing bonus as part of a seven-year deal worth almost $50 million.
But after locking up Davis, then signing kicker Martin Gramatica to a two-year deal and backup quarterback Brad Johnson to a three-year contract, just where do the Cowboys turn from here?
While it's likely the team would prefer to sit back and wait for more pieces of the free-agent puzzle to fall into place, the Cowboys still have one more priority they would like to address before playing the waiting game.
The Cowboys are still in negotiations with offensive tackle Marc Colombo, who started every game at right tackle last season.
Colombo, an unrestricted free agent who had the first injury-free season of his career, initially was looking to cash in on the spending spree that took place here in the first week of free agency. But with Colombo having just one full year under his belt, many teams, including the Cowboys, have been reluctant to shell out a multi-year deal to a player with such a history of injuries.
Instead, the Cowboys are looking for a more practical deal in the range of two years that would give Colombo an opportunity to prove he is completely past all of his injury problems. The former first-round pick suffered a serious knee injury his rookie season in 2002 which caused him to miss all but nine games over the next three seasons.
The Cowboys have offered Colombo a two-year, $7 million deal that would pay the offensive tackle about $5 million next season in signing bonus and salary. However, if he had another productive season, the Cowboys might be more inclined to restructure Colombo's deal before he enters the final season of that contract.
The offer is basically the exact contract New Orleans re-signed Jon Stinchcomb to last weekend. Stinchcomb received a two-year, $7 million deal, and while the offer to Colombo is nearly identical, the careers of both tackles are rather similar as well.
Stinchcomb, a high second-round pick (37th overall) of the Saints in 2003, was labeled by many as a draft "bust" after playing in just 10 games in his first three seasons. Stinchcomb missed all of the 2005 season with a knee injury but returned in 2006 to play all 16 games at right tackle for the Saints, who won the NFC South division and advanced to the NFC Championship Game.
But despite his recent turnaround, Stinchcomb only signed a two-year deal as the Saints likely still have some reservations about locking him up to a long-term contract.
But if the Cowboys can indeed re-sign Colombo, who would become the team's fourth player to sign since the start of free agency, they may be done writing checks for a while.
Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones called the first week the "expensive part of free agency". Look for the team to sit back and wait for a few price tags to fall before jumping back into the second or maybe even the third wave of free agency.
While the Cowboys might have a need for a veteran safety, don't expect them to get into bidding wars for some of the top available players such as Ken Hamlin, Deon Grant or Kevin Kaesviharn.
If the Cowboys can bring back Colombo, he would be the third of the team's original seven unrestricted free agents to return. The Cowboys re-signed center Andre Gurode to a six-year deal a week before the start of free agency, and then gave kicker Martin Gramatica a two-year contract on Monday.
The Cowboys have already lost two free agents to other clubs. With Gurode locked up, backup center Al Johnson signed with the Cardinals, while defensive end Kenyon Coleman joined the Jets.
Safety Tony Parrish, linebacker Al Singleton, and of course Colombo, remained unsigned.
When the Cowboys released kicker Mike Vanderjagt last November, he didn't have much interest in finding another team before the end of the season. But while he didn't sign with another club, Vanderjagt is now looking at all of his options.
He visited the Saints on Tuesday about possibly kicking for them in 2007. New Orleans carried two kickers at the end of last year in veteran John Carney and former Cowboys kicker Billy Cundiff, who handled the kickoff duties.
Vanderjagt made 13-of-18 field goals in Dallas, but his inconsistencies led to his release on Nov. 27, 2006. The Cowboys turned to Gramatica, who made 6-of-8 kicks in the final five games and was re-signed to a two-year contract earlier this week.