Cowboys reward RB Barber, CB Newman with new deals

Updated: May 20, 2008, 7:40 PM ET
By John Clayton | ESPN.com

Using the salary-cap loopholes created by Tuesday's decision to have a possible uncapped year in 2010, the Dallas Cowboys locked up two of their key young players -- cornerback Terence Newman and halfback Marion Barber.

Terence Newman

Newman

Barber
Barber

Newman received a six-year extension worth $50.2 million, similar to the deal Marcus Trufant received from Seattle. He will receive $22.5 million guaranteed over the first three years of the contract. Barber agreed to a seven-year, $45 million deal that included $16 million in guarantees.

"It feels good to get a deal done and know that I can retire as a Cowboy," Newman told ESPN.com's Ed Werder. "The Joneses took a chance on a small-town country boy from Kansas and I haven't let them down. The best part is I get to stay in Dallas with the guys who I have bonded with, and we can do all that's in our power to go and get that Lombardi Trophy."

On a conference call early Tuesday, NFL Players Association executive director Gene Upshaw talked about the last uncapped year in 1993.

Upshaw said teams ended up spending 70 percent of their revenue on player costs instead of the current 60 percent, and teams like the Cowboys locked up as many players as they could without the restriction of a cap.

"Once we shortened the current labor deal, a new set of rules started involving the cap," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. "A new way of accounting for cap dollars started with that decision and we used them in getting these deals completed."

A year ago, Barber was considered one of the most dangerous runners coming off the bench, forming a great one-two punch with then starting running back Julius Jones.

Now, he's one of the highest-paid running backs in football. The highlight of his deal, though, was his payout over the first three years. Barber will receive $21 million over the next three seasons.

"He kept repeating the numbers over and over," agent Drew Rosenhaus said. "He sat there at least an extra 20 minutes after we got the deal done in a state of shock."

Barber is coming off his best season even though he didn't start a game. He rushed for 975 yards on 204 carries for a 4.8 yard-per-carry average. Jones would start games while Barber would make the big finish.

His relentless style wore down defenses. Though he's a strong inside runner, Barber has a unique ability to bounce outside and run over defenders.

Near the end zone he was even more dangerous, rushing for 24 touchdowns over the past two years.

Jones left for the Seattle Seahawks, but the Cowboys remain a two-back team. Though Barber will move into the starting role, first-round pick Felix Jones from Arkansas will be used as a pass catcher and a runner off the bench.

After three seasons of being the closer, Barber finally hit pay dirt with his new contract. He was in his restricted free-agent season.

Newman is coming off his first Pro Bowl selection. He's been a starter and an anchor of the secondary since joining the team as the fifth overall pick in 2003.

The Cowboys began organized team activities Tuesday and will continue working Tuesdays through Thursdays for the next several weeks.

When Barber and Newman arrive, they'll be wearing big smiles and carrying lots of spending money.

"Marion said he was happy Terence Newman also signed because it would deflect some of the ribbing he's going to get from his teammates," Rosenhaus said.

John Clayton covers the NFL for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

John Clayton

NFL senior writer