The Cowboys continued their string of re-signing their own young, talented players by agreeing to terms with offensive lineman Marc Columbo.
DC.com’s Nick Eatman provides the details:
The Cowboys have signed their third offensive lineman since just before free agency began, and the second this week after finalizing a two-year deal with Marc Colombo on Friday. Colombo, who started all 16 games for the Cowboys last season, received a two-year, $7 million deal that includes a $4 million signing bonus.
The signing of Colombo likely means the Cowboys will play Leonard Davis, who signed a seven-year, $49.6 million contract on Monday, at right guard. The Cowboys also locked up Pro Bowl center Andre Gurode to a six-year, $30 million contract.
“By signing Marc, this gives us a lot of options there on the offensive line,” Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. “It really helps make the offensive line one of the more solid areas on the team. You can go as far as say it’s an area of strength.”
The Cowboys also waived veteran tackle Jason Fabini, a free-agent acquisition last off-season who was expected to compete for the right tackle position in training camp. However, Colombo beat out Fabini and Rob Petitti for the job. Fabini spent the entire season on the roster and played in 15 games, mostly on special teams and spot duty.
But last year, Colombo showed why the Bears made him their first-round pick in 2002. He not only won the right tackle position and started every game, but was rather impressive in playing the first half of the season without yielding a sack. Last year’s head coach Bill Parcells often praised Colombo for his improved play on the field and his dedication in the weight room, starting in the previous off-season.
Jones said he believes Colombo resurrecting his career with the Cowboys was one reason why he decided to remain in Dallas. “The way he’s evolved, how he’s basically right underneath the tutorship of guys like (strength and conditioning coach) Joe Juraszek, we feel like he’s a home-grown player,” Jones said. “It’s almost like we drafted him No.1. But I think that played a big part in his decision to stay here because how he got his career really going with rehab and built up his strength to become the player he was last year.” “When we looked at his play and the contribution he made last year, we were really impressed. It was not only at a level we could accomplish our goals as a team, but there is room for improvement.”
Although the Cowboys have signed Gurode, Davis and now Colombo in the last three weeks, there are still some questions on the offensive line, especially with right guard Marco Rivera, who underwent his second back surgery in two years to repair a herniated disk. There is a chance that Rivera, an 11-year veteran, might not return next season, possibly even announcing his retirement. Jones said he will let Rivera make that decision, but the recent signings at least give the Cowboys more options. “(Rivera) will decide what his future is going to be,” Jones said. “We will monitor and look at how he progresses this spring, and that’s something we’ll have to continue to look at, but he’s doing the same thing, so we’ll have to see how it goes. It’s something, and again in its own way, it allows us the flexibility to be pretty patient here with Rivera.”
But even Jones said on Friday that even he didn’t expect to be signing Colombo to a new contract like this. “That might have been too much to hope for, but Marc had a lot to do with that,” Jones said. “Marc had a lot to do with that because, now he’ll give Joe Juraszek huge credit here, and he should because he made a difference, but Juraszek will give it up for any player that will really buy into it and is smart enough to see you can really improve yourself as a player and improve your chances of having a longer career and a more productive career. “I’ve seen a lot of players hang ‘em up or not pursue with just sheer work ethic and the conscientious way he has overcome his injury.”
Calvin Watkins explains why this is such an important move:
The signing of starting right tackle Marc Colombo to a two-year deal worth $7 million on Friday gives the Cowboys some flexibility. With the deal and the signing of Leonard Davis, who can play guard and tackle, earlier this week, Dallas six possible starters on the offensive line. Also, the Cowboys don’t have to make a decision yet on right guard Marco Rivera, who suffered a herniated disk in the playoff loss at Seattle. He has undergone surgery for the same injury twice in the last three seasons.
Aside from maybe quarterback, there’s nothing more important to a football team’s success than building a solid offensive line. The Cowboys seem to be well on their way.
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