OXNARD, Calif. – In NFL years, 2016 is forever, so when the Cowboys move into their new headquarters in Frisco, Texas, not many players on the team now will be around for the switch.
As Jason Garrett has pointed out, only 17 of the players in training camp were on the Cowboys’ roster when he took over midway through the 2010 season.
Only 18 players are under contract through 2016 - Miles Austin, Barry Church, Brandon Carr, Morris Caliborne, L.P. Ladouceur, Sean Lissemore, Nate Livings, Jay Ratliff, Tony Romo, Orlando Scandrick, Jason Witten, Travis Frederick, Gavin Escobar, Terrance Williams, J.J. Wilcox, B.W. Webb, DeVonte Holloman and Joseph Randle. Others like DeMarcus Ware, Tyron Smith, Dez Bryant, Sean Lee, Bruce Carter, Dan Bailey and maybe DeMarco Murray have their contracts expire before 2016 but should figure into the long-term plans.
The Cowboys moved into their current Valley Ranch offices in 1985, but time has caught up with the facility, even if there is a history.
“I think Valley Ranch is a pretty unique place,” Garrett said. “There is obviously great history and tradition there. I think you feel that. It’s something we try to embrace. It’s a pretty unique facility in that it’s all on one level. Most of the new facilities you go to are on different levels … I certainly have a lot of great memories of the place. It certainly has a lot of good use left in it for the next couple or three years. I think it holds up well, but it’s new and exciting to be able to go to Frisco in a state of the art facility.”
A state-of-the-art facility could help sway the minds of free agents, but cash often rules in NFL free agency.
“Certainly at the college level, they seem to be in some kind of competitive situation with sizes of weight rooms and all that kind of stuff,” Garrett said. “I think that’s probably less the case in the NFL. I do think having good facilities are important. We talk about being your best, demanding everybody to be your best, and you want to create an environment where they can be their best. You want to have up to date, state of the art type facilities where everybody can function at the highest level. But there’s also a little something to having a little patina in your life, too. You know what I’m saying, where it’s a little bit worn in, the old shoes. Sometimes those are good. They feel comfortable and sometimes you can be at your best in those environments as well.”
The contract with Frisco dictates the Cowboys must spend at least one week of training camp at the new facility every summer. It is possible the Cowboys could open up minicamp practices as well, which teams like Miami have done in the past.
While the majority of teams use their facilities as a full-time training camp home in the summer, Jerry Jones has seemed resistant to the idea in part because of the Cowboys’ history in southern California.
“I’ve done both as a player and as a coach,” Garrett said. “You certainly can function in either environment and be successful. I do think regardless of how you do training camp and where you do it, it’s an important time to help your team bond. In certain situations, if the environment’s right when you go away, your team can bond that way and you’re kind of focused on football. They’re together. They eat meals with each other. They get tape. Everything they do is kind of next to each other and we think that’s a positive thing. You can create that same environment at home. I’ve been part of that as both a player and as a coach, so you just kind of figure it out. But that’s a really important piece of training camp. You better make sure that happens.”