Free agency was always going to be a tough period for the Dallas Cowboys and their strict salary cap limits. Eighteen players hit the open market and most of them were expected to get bigger money elsewhere.

Top free agents were never going to an option, and moves, such as releasing players and reconstructing contracts, needed to be made to free up money for incoming free agents. Helping to free up some of that money was supposed to be the release of Tony Romo.

But as we continue to wait around for what the Cowboys will do with Romo, some new and familiar faces will be on the team in 2017.

Starting with the familiar, wide receivers Terrance Williams and Brice Butler re-signed to compete for the No. 2 receiver spot. Williams signed a four-year $17 million contract with $9.5 million. Butler signed a one-year deal worth $1.1 million.

Offensive guard Jonathan Cooper was re-signed to a one-year contract. The former seventh overall pick in 2013 spent time on the Cleveland Browns and New England Patriots last season before joining the Cowboys during the playoffs. The Cowboys were forced to make a move on the o-line after losing Ronald Leary (signed with the Denver Broncos) and Doug Free (retired).

Three new faces on defense join the Cowboys roster. Cornerback Nolan Carroll signed a three-year, $10 million contract. Carroll, 30, played with the Philadelphia Eagles the past three seasons playing in 43 games. He will offer depth to a position devastated by free agency. But getting Carroll does not change the need for defensive backs in the draft.

After losing Terrell McClain and Jack Crawford to free agency, two defensive linemen were added for depth at an area of need. Defensive tackle Stephen Paea signed a one-year deal worth $2 million. Paea, 28, is a big (306 pounds) run-stopper who will plug the middle. He spent time in Rob Marinelli’s system on the Chicago Bears and most recently played with Cleveland last season.

Defensive end Damontre Moore signed a two-year deal worth $1.65 million. The 24-year-old out of Texas A&M has played in 49 career games with the New York Giants, Miami Dolphins and Seattle Seahawks. He has not started a game in the NFL. Safe to say the signings on the defensive line does not change the position priority in the draft.

They are not the splash signings fans want but the Cowboys have done well in getting players at positions of need. The splash moves will not be made in free agency. That move will be reserved for the draft.

Stephen Elliott is a NCAA football and Cowboys columnist at EndZoneScore. Reach out to him on Twitter: @WhoisStephenE.

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