Cowboys sign Newman and Barber

The Dallas Cowboys signed running back Marion Barber and cornerback Terence Newman to long-term extensions Tuesday, just in time to beat a deadline that would’ve changed how the money is spread over the salary cap.

It wasn’t cheap, though, costing Jerry Jones roughly $95 million.

At least he knows he’ll have both players through 2014.

Newman’s deal is a six-year extension to the final year left on his initial contract. It’s worth more than $50 million, with a $12 million signing bonus and $22.5 million guaranteed over the first three years.

Barber, a restricted free agent, received a $45 million, seven-year contract that includes $16 million in guaranteed bonuses. It’s worth $21 million over the first three years, all of which puts him in the salary range of LaDainian Tomlinson, Edgerrin James and Larry Johnson—heady stuff for a guy whose only career start came in his last game.

“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.”

The urgency to get both deals done stemmed from NFL owners voting unanimously Tuesday to end their labor agreement with the players’ union in 2011. Deals signed after 3 p.m. Tuesday would’ve had to follow different rules.

Because the Cowboys were expected to keep both players, the sense of urgency helped get the deals done.

“It’s going to be a little more complicated for teams to negotiate contracts going forward,” Rosenhaus said. “It was nice to get a good deal and not have to worry about dealing with the new system we’re going to have. It was a plus for both sides to get a deal done.”

Barber led the NFC in rushing touchdowns two seasons ago, then made an even bigger impression on the club last season despite backing up Julius Jones. His powerful style has earned him the nickname “Marion the Barbarian” and made him a fan favorite. And a Pro Bowler.

He ran for 975 yards and 10 touchdowns last year, plus had 44 catches for 282 yards and two touchdowns. Acknowledging he’d be the starter in 2008, the Cowboys moved him into the lineup for a playoff game against the New York Giants. He responded with a career-high 129 yards and a touchdown on a career-high 27 carries.

Barber split carries in college at Minnesota and with Jones his first three seasons. Despite the big bucks, he still won’t carry the full load as Dallas used its top draft pick on speedy Felix Jones of Arkansas.

But Barber isn’t being paid like a part-timer. Tomlinson is the only running back with more guaranteed money. It’s also millions more than Atlanta paid Michael Turner, an unrestricted free agent.

Now that he’s got the job and the big contract, the only thing left is for the shy guy in the locker room to start showing off the personality friends rave about.

“Now that he’s going to be the starter and one of the highest-paid players at his position, you’ll see his coming-out party,” Rosenhaus said.

Newman’s contract also vaults him into the highest-paid range. Philadelphia gave Asante Samuel a six-year, $57 million deal, and Seattle re-signed Marcus Trufant for $50.2 million over six years.

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.


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