It’s easy to forget some of the undrafted free agents who have passed through the Dallas Cowboys organization over the years. We are briefly reminded of it after the completion of each NFL Draft, but today I thought I’d shine a spotlight a little more brightly on these players.
Today, I thought I’d share with you who I believe are the Dallas Cowboys Top 5 best undrafted free agents in the history of the organization. My rankings may not match yours perfectly, but that’s what the comment section is for at the end of the article. We can debate who you believe should rank higher or lower there.
Let’s get started…
Top 5 Dallas Cowboys UDFAs
#5 – OL, Mark Tuinei (1983-1997)
The “Gentle Giant”, Mark Tuinei signed with the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted free agent defensive tackle to back up Randy White. In 1985 he made the switch to the offensive side of the ball because the Cowboys needed help. He eventually became a mainstay at left tackle, protecting Troy Aikman’s blindside and paving the way for Emmitt Smith in the running game. The two-time Pro Bowler may have been a little overshadowed during his 12 years as a starter, but he was highly regarded for his toughness and good nature.
#4 – CB, Everson Walls (1981-1989)
The Dallas Cowboys signed Everson Walls as an undrafted free agent out of Grambling State University in 1981. Many scouts believed he was too slow (4.72 40-yard dash), but the Cowboys gambled anyway. He immediately contributed as a rookie and became the starter by the fifth game of the season. He led the league in interceptions three different seasons (1981, 1982, 1985). He and Ed Reed are the only two players in NFL history to accomplish this feat. He was also a four-time Pro Bowler, three-time first-team All-Pro, and Super Bowl champion.
#3 – S, Cliff Harris (1970-1979)
Nicknamed “Captain Crash”, Cliff Harris was a force at safety for the Dallas Cowboys for 10 seasons. Harris was an immediate contributor at free safety in 1970 and had at least two interceptions in each season. He appeared in five Super Bowl’s – winning two – and made the Pro Bowl six times and was named a first-team All-Pro three times.
#2 – WR, Drew Pearson (1973-1983)
The Dallas Cowboys signed Drew Pearson as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Tulsa mostly due to his special teams play, however, they quickly learned of his value as a wide receiver. He became a first-team All-Pro in just his second year and twice more in 1976 and 1977. He was also a three-time Pro-Bowler and Super Bowl champion.
#1 – QB, Tony Romo (2003-2016)
Tony Romo is considered by many as one of the best undrafted free agents of all time, not just one of the Dallas Cowboys’. Romo went from going undrafted to the Cowboys starting QB in just a little over three years. The four-time Pro Bowler was a big reason for Dallas’ success for over a decade and his stats rival any other QB in the history of the game.
- Bill Bates (1983-1997)
- Cornell Green (1962-1974)
- Michael Downs (1981-1988)
- Mike Gaechter (1962-1969)
- Dan Bailey (2011-2017)
A serious case could be made for just about any one of these players sneaking into the Dallas Cowboys Top 5 all-time undrafted free agent signings. Cornell Green and Michael Downs are tied fifth all-time in interceptions with the Cowboys. Mike Gaechfer played both CB and S for the Cowboys in the early 1960s and has the 13th most INT’s in team history. Dan Bailey was the league’s most accurate kicker during his time with the Cowboys. And, Bill Bates’ led the NFL to create a special teams category in the Pro Bowl, not to mention he spent 15 years in silver and blue.