Matt Johnson arrives, agrees to deal

June, 14, 2012
6/14/12
4:30
PM ET
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Not only did strong safety Matt Johnson make his debut Thursday for the Dallas Cowboys after rules kept him out of nine organized team activities and two minicamp practices but he also agreed to a four-year deal with the club.

With Johnson under wraps, the Cowboys have two draft picks -- Morris Claiborne and Kyle Wilber -- left to get into the fold. Wilber’s contract could be wrapped up Friday.

Like the other signees this week -- Tyrone Crawford, Danny Coale, James Hanna and Caleb McSurdy -- Johnson will receive base salaries of $390,000, $480,000, $570,000 and $660,000.

Because Eastern Washington’s finals concluded later than most schools, Johnson, the 135th overall pick, was unable to get on the field. He took turns with the No. 2 defense and was around the ball, just as he showed in the May rookie minicamp.

“It was good to see him," head coach Jason Garrett said. "He had a good rookie minicamp with us and then he hasn't been with us the rest of the offseason. One of the things we were attracted to him about when we drafted him is he just seems like a heady football player, an instinctive football player. And just the short exposure we've had of him on the practice field, you can see that … Sometimes it can be intimidating for a guy. Not only is he a rookie, but everybody else has been practicing for three weeks, and now you come in on the last day and you try to fit yourself in. But he seems to have some savvy and some instincts about him, so again, we're excited to see more of him in camp."

The rookies will remain at Valley Ranch for another two weeks, continuing their offseason program and are allowed to work with their coaches. For Johnson, it will allow him time to catch up.

Before the team flies to California for training camp, rookies will report for training camp at Valley Ranch on July 25 with quarterbacks, first-year players and injured players.

On Wednesday, executive vice president Stephen Jones said Johnson could contend for a starting spot even with the time missed. Jones also said he is not opposed to the rule that prevented Johnson from coming to town sooner.

“It’s to encourage these guys to come out to get their degree,” Jones said. “They want them staying in school until finals are over. Hopefully in a lot of cases they will get their degree. I don’t disagree with it. It’s just tough because the West Coast has a different system where they finish later.”

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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