PFF grades Dallas Cowboys’ free agency after first wave

It was an unusual breaking of rank for the Dallas Cowboys this time around, as they were unusually busy in the first wave of NFL free agency.

What a began as a deathly silent first day and a half rapidly turned into a signing bonanza for the team, as they re-signed wide receiver Terrance Williams to a long-term deal and grabbed some value outside the camp. Their moves were smart and frugal, and the folks at Pro Football Focus and gave their nod of approval.

WR Terrance Williams re-signs with Dallas Cowboys

Actual: Four years, $17 million

PFF play-earned contract: Four years, $21.7 million, $5.8 million guaranteed

Grade: A

Dallas does a nice job in locking up a solid receiving option for extremely modest money. Williams may be capped in terms of his role in Dallas. But he has been a big-play threat for the team with receptions for at least 42 yards in each of his four seasons, and catches of longer than 75 yards in two of them.

The sought-after Williams hit NFL free agency with no shortage of suitors. Considering his production at the position over the first four years of his tenure in the league, which drove his market value upwards of four years at $35.4M (per Spotrac). He instead re-signed with the Cowboys on a four-year deal worth $17M, that can reportedly escalate to $22M.

That’s one serious stiff arm to capitalism.

And those who have wrongfully vilified him over the course of his first contract. Will have to re-evaluate their stance on the polarizing WR, because not only is Williams here to stay — he took a lot less money to do it.

CB Nolan Carroll to Dallas Cowboys

Actual: Three years, $10 million

PFF play-earned contract: Three years, $3.5 million

Grade: C

Nolan Carroll was one of Philadelphia’s top three corners in 2016. But that entire group struggled collectively to hold up in the pass game. He surrendered 752 receiving yards, four touchdowns and a passer rating of 100.0 across 89 targets. But will be stepping into a better coverage unit in Dallas.

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There was no reported interest between the Dallas Cowboys and cornerback Nolan Carroll, but interest is clearly there on both sides. The free agent joins the team after spending the last three seasons trying to stop them as a member of the rival Philadelphia Eagles.

Carroll is a former fifth round pick of the Miami Dolphins (2010), and spent his time there before joining the Philadelphia Eagles in 2014 — after a reported rift with the Dolphins’ organization.

The 30-year-old veteran also will help solidify a secondary that has already lost starting safety Barry Church to the Jacksonville Jaguars, with backup J.J. Wilcox also heading out of town.

Starting cornerbacks Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne are also still on the market, so Carroll gives the team some insurance there as well should either not return — which already looks imminent for Claiborne as he’s expected to sign with Baltimore Ravens.

DT Stephen Paea to Dallas Cowboys

Actual: One year, $2 million

PFF play-earned contract: One year, $3 million

Grade: B

The man with the scouting combine bench press record, Stephen Paea is a solid rotational body on the defensive line, and well worth $2 million over a season. This is a good pick up for Dallas.

Paea is a formidable run-stopper is a former second round pick of the Chicago Bears, and becomes a Cowboy by way of the Cleveland Browns. In their first stint together with the Bears, Marinelli had nothing but high praise for the NFL Combine bench press star.

“He is a worker,” Marinelli said of Paea, via The Chicago Tribune. “And he is tough. You see the same guy every day. He is really consistent.”

After losing McClain to the Washington Redskins on the first day of free agency, Paea will now combine with players like Cedric Thornton and rookie Maliek Collins — making for quite the powerful defensive front.

Fact is, the Cowboys also are on the right track so far if their destination is Super Bowl 52.