Last offseason, the Cowboys signed the most free agents in team history. But that won't be the case in 2013.
Dallas is still $6.8 million over this year's salary cap and needs to get younger as a team. That should lead the Cowboys to fill their needs through the draft.
Here are the big-name free agents they will have to miss out on this year.
Ed Reed, Safety
Dallas did recently cut Gerald Sensabaugh and the Ravens might lose a safety of their own. But Reed won't land in Big D if that's the case. The longtime Baltimore player is still holding out hope that he can re-sign with the Ravens.
Reed told NFL Network's "NFL AM" (via NFL.com) on March 4, "I haven't spoken to anyone. Hopefully, that call comes soon. I'm a Raven. I plan on being a Raven. I couldn't see me anywhere else right now."
If he did hit the free agent market, the future Hall of Fame safety would immediately become the top name at his position. With a limited checkbook, it would be hard for Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to persuade Reed to sign with Dallas.
James Harrison, Outside Linebacker
The Steelers had to part ways with their hard-hitting and controversial linebacker March 9, which has fans from all other 31 NFL teams salivating at the possibility of Harrison joining their team. He's a great and intimidating player, but his position is not one of need for the Cowboys.
Dallas would likely be interested if not for the move to the 4-3 scheme under Monte Kiffin. Harrison has been a 3-4 linebacker in Pittsburgh, and the last thing Kiffin needs is another player in need of learning the defense.
There are plenty of teams who run the 3-4 that will have the money to pay Harrison, which puts Dallas near the bottom of his possible landing spots.
Even if Jones wasn't over the salary cap, Harrison is not what the Cowboys need in the locker room. The linebacker has criticized the NFL for fining him for numerous illegal hits.
These actions paired with the spotlight that comes with being a Cowboy would create another distraction this team does not need.
Eric Winston, Right Tackle
Another big name to hit the free agent market recently is former Chiefs right tackle Eric Winston. He's the same Winston who finished No. 3 in this year's Bleacher Report NFL 1,000 rankings at his position.
Doug Free was a liability more than a help at the position in 2012, but the Cowboys will have a tough time making the big upgrade to Winston. As ESPN NFC East blogger Dan Graziano recently pointed out, Winston would be great for Dallas, but the team is just too strapped to sign a big name like him this offseason.
Sadly for Cowboys fans, Winston is going to go to some other team that can back a Brinks truck of cash onto his front lawn.
Jerry Jones can try his "tour of Cowboys Stadium" trick that helped win one-time Chief Brandon Carr. Without the money, though, it's hard to make a real play at the top free agents.
Last season was a free agent-heavy offseason for the Cowboys. For that reason, this one will have to be focused primarily on the draft.
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