IRVING, Texas -- In the early stages of the offseason, owner/general manager Jerry Jones thought if his team had beaten the New York Giants in the 2011 regular-season finale, the Cowboys might have produced a deep playoff run.
It didn't happen.
The Cowboys lost the finale and watched the NFL playoffs for the second consecutive season. But after nearly two months of free agency and then the NFL draft, which ended Saturday night, Jones said his team is better than last year.
"I think we're better," Jones said after the draft Saturday night. "And we're certainly better with what we did in free agency and certainly just all the way around. Yes, it wouldn't surprise me to see really again 30 percent new faces on this roster with what we've done by the time we finished here tonight."
The Cowboys released veteran starting cornerback Terence Newman and guard Kyle Kosier and didn't re-sign veterans Montrae Holland, Derrick Dockery, Bradie James, Keith Brooking and Abram Elam, who received significant playing time in 2011. The club also didn't re-sign Laurent Robinson, who led the Cowboys with 11 touchdown receptions, because it wasn't willing to pay him a five-year, $32.5 million deal like the Jacksonville Jaguars were.
In free agency, the Cowboys signed guards Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau to contracts worth a combined $30 million. They also signed cornerback Brandon Carr to a five-year, $50 million deal and added backup quarterback Kyle Orton. Safety Brodney Pool was brought in on a one-year deal and linebacker Dan Connor signed a two-year deal.
When the draft started Thursday night, the Cowboys made a bold move by moving from No. 14 to No. 6 and selecting the best cornerback in the draft, LSU's Morris Claiborne.
But over the last two days, the Cowboys didn't make any more trades, despite having an opportunity to move down in the middle rounds and gain some picks.
"I think overall, [Saturday] went really well," team executive vice president Stephen Jones said. "As you can see, we didn't do a lot of moving around and we went with our picks, and the biggest reasons was when we were ready to pick right there, there was a player there we really liked and really fit what we were trying to get accomplished for our team. We stayed right there. We had a chance to move down and around and up, but we felt really comfortable with our board."