Something Extra Riding on Saturday's Game

Every now and then the game of football makes you turn to an oracle for words of wisdom. This is one of those times and that oracle is Rosie Perez's character in "White Men Can't Jump." In between studying Jeopardy categories, Gloria tells Billy that, "Sometimes when you win, you really lose, and sometimes when you lose, you really win."

The Cowboys find themselves in just such a predicament this Saturday against the Eagles. Now, obviously, beating the evil invaders from Philadelphia is a win any way you look at it. Ending a long playoff drought, trumping a rival three times in one season and moving on for a chance at the NFC Championship Game is a pretty sweet reward. It doesn't come without strings attached, however.

By now, you've probably heard talk about the 2010 NFL season being played without a salary cap because there's no Collective Bargaining Agreement between the league and the players. When people talk about the prospect of such a year, there's almost always a mention of how Jerry Jones will use the revenues from his stately pleasuredome to finance a shopping spree of epic proportions to stock his team with superstars in a big-budget push for a Super Bowl.

Those people are wrong, though. If the Cowboys are one of the final eight teams playing this season, they'll be hit with stiff restrictions about how much they can spend on free agents after the season comes to an end. Ben Singer of recently did a fine job of outlining those restrictions, but, in short, there are caps on how much they can spend on unrestricted free agents that are only loosened if they lose free agents of their own. Whichever team loses on Saturday, then, will find themselves a bit hamstrung come the free agent season. Sometimes when you win, you lose.  

That's good news for the Redskins, but the outlook isn't all that bleak for the Cowboys. The lack of a CBA also changes the rules about which how many years of service players need before they become unrestricted free agents. That means boldface names like Shawne Merriman, Brandon Marshall and Vincent Jackson will be restricted free agents. Another guy in that boat? Miles Austin, whose status means that there's almost no chance of the Cowboys losing him. Sometimes when you lose, you win. 

As much fun as it might be to imagine what the Double J would come up with if he was allowed to spend his money without any restraints, winning the game and finally putting to rest the choker label they've worn for so long would be much more fun.

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