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Stephen Jones Talks Melton, Draft, Need At Receiver

Posted Mar 21, 2014


IRVING, Texas -- After a stretch that saw his team part ways with three Pro Bowlers and add another, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones took time to reflect on it Friday.

Jones spoke briefly with 105.3 The Fan on Friday evening, touching on a number of topics, from the addition of defensive tackle Henry Melton to the Cowboys' strategy in the upcoming draft.

The chief concern among those was the addition of Melton -- which has dominated Cowboys headlines for the past week. The 2012 Pro Bowler, still recovering from ACL surgery, agreed to terms on a one-year contract with a three-year team option on Tuesday evening.


Melton signed that deal Wednesday afternoon, giving defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli a premier defensive tackle to replace Jason Hatcher.

"He's highly motivated. He really wanted to have the one year with the option to make a lot more," Jones said of Melton. "I think he knows if he doesn't go play well, then he's got an uphill battle. So we're really pleased.

We think that solidifies us at our most important position for Rod, which is under tackle. Obviously we'll be looking in the draft as well, to help us out. But that goes a long way to helping us out."
Melton is the biggest of three moves the Cowboys have made to help offset the loss of Hatcher and DeMarcus Ware. Prior to signing him, the Cowboys agreed to deals with Jeremy Mincey and Terrell McClain. Jones said the moves by no means satisfy the Cowboys' defensive line needs, but give them flexibility in the upcoming draft.

"To me, that's what free agency is about. You certainly can't build a football team around free agency, and I think you're going in the wrong direction if you look at it that way," he said. "What it hopefully does is fill glaring needs so that you can take the best player available. I think when you start reaching for a particular position you start to make mistakes."

One remaining variable in that situation is Anthony Spencer, who is still recovering from microfracture surgery. Spencer reached the Pro Bowl in his last complete season for Dallas, but Jones said it remains to be seen if the veteran defensive end will be healthy in time for training camp.
Jones did not rule out the possibility of re-signing Spencer in the right situation, however.

"His bigger issue, not unlike Henry, is the injury to his knee. Certainly he's got more work to do on that, just as Henry does. I fully expect

Henry to be ready for training camp -- that's probably a bigger question mark for Anthony," Jones said. "But certainly our history with him has been good … and we'd certainly love to get him back, get him healthy, and if the right opportunity is there we'll certainly look at that."
Despite the work the Cowboys have done to offset the loss of Ware and Hatcher, though, Jones was not as concerned about the hole left by Miles Austin. The Pro Bowl wideout was released last week, leaving few experienced options behind Dez Bryant.
Asked if he thought receiver to be a big need ahead of May's NFL draft, Jones was firm.

"I do not. We were very pleased with Terrance. As you know, Miles -- his play time was limited last year once again, because of injuries. I thought, this time, guys stepped up," he said. "We played solid offensive football. Guys like Terrance Williams, (Gavin) Escobar and Cole Beasley are only going to get better. So I don't see that as big an issue as a lot of people might think it is for us."

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