PHOENIX — So much has changed since the last time Jerry Jones opened up to the media earlier this month.
When he visited with reporters on his bus in Indianapolis, Ezekiel Elliott was still on the team, Tony Pollard had yet to be franchised and of course, nothing had occurred in free agency just yet.
Fast forward to Monday in Phoenix at the site of the NFL Owner's Meetings, and Jones had plenty to discuss when stopped by the media in between his league meetings.
Here are some of the highlights from Jerry speaking to the media:
- Asked about his decision to release Ezekiel Elliott, Jones said "everything was on the table" in his discussions with Zeke, referring to the possibility of him staying on the team. But ultimately, the Cowboys did not make an offer to lower his contract and keep him on the roster. "Love to have him but again, with what we need to do to make our cap work and what we can do to really, in our mind, improve through scheme or another player that that was worth us saving that money on the cap."
- Currently, Zeke is no longer with an NFL team and his No. 21 has already been issued to cornerback Stephon Gilmore. But when asked if Jerry would ever consider re-signing Zeke, possibly later in the summer, the owner said he would never "take anything off the table." But that doesn't seem like a realistic scenario. Jones said "Zeke gave us everything he had and more. And we gave him everything we had and more. So that's where you'd like to end things.One of the players the Cowboys added was WR Brandin Cooks, a player Jones admitted they tried to get in a trade last October. But Jones said he views Cooks in a role that could ultimately replace Amari Cooper, who was traded last year. "I think what you want Cooks to do is what Amari did for the overall passing game," Jones said. "Not only in the production, which you counted on with Amari but also the room he opened up for the other receivers and those two things because of the Cooks' speed and because of just his route running ability he does that for you."
- What does Jones like about Stephon Gilmore, another veteran the team traded for this offseason? " His instincts, his instincts and of course he's got great athletic ability," he said. "But his instincts and in this particular case, his experience and the fact that he's got a lot of gas left in his tank."
- Things are always subject to change, but as of right now, Jerry Jones said he sees Terence Steele as an offensive tackle, and probably the swing tackle behind Tyron Smith and Tyler Smith. Steele, who is rehabbing an ACL injury, is a restricted free agent with a second-round tender. Jones discussed the importance of having three players at tackle who can start, as opposed to moving either Steele or Tyler Smith inside to guard.
- Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy could have a different answer to Steele when he meets with the media on Tuesday morning from Phoenix. But McCarthy taking over the play-calling duties is one of the reasons Jones said he's excited about the upcoming season. "The emphasis that Mike is putting on the intense participation on what we're doing offensively - which is calling the plays. That's very significant. I think you get the best out of Mike McCarthy this way. It was (important) to do it at this time as opposed to just coming in the door. He's gotten to learn some things about the team and learn about the club."
- Yes! That was the answer Jerry Jones gave when asked if the Cowboys are a better team now than the end of the season, mainly because of the additions of Stephon Gilmore and Brandin Cooks. "Yes!" And Jerry stood there, waiting for the next line of questions.
- The Cowboys have been busy in free agency, especially in re-signing their own unrestricted free agents. When asked about DT Johnathan Hankins, Jones said there "progress" and the two sides are working on a deal to keep in Dallas. Jones went on to say he doesn't foresee entering the draft with a need at defensive tackle.
- So what does the free agency period mean for the draft? Jones said it has once again allowed the team to be "position selective" when comes to taking the best-available-player. "We've got ourselves in real good shape to get us some picks that can play immediately. And that's the goal here. If you get yourself in a position where you can draft some players you can put on the field, and be a position selective a little bit, you're doing it (right). Now you never want to pass on the guy you ought to be taking, but still be position selective. And that's, I think, where we are. I feel good that we can take any position there."
- Jerry was asked if the fans should be excited about the moves the Cowboys have made this offseason, and quickly pointed to the additions of Cooks and Gilmore, along with other additions and returning players. "When you add that up and really coach this team, and add that up and add the acquisition of those veteran players, the re-signing veteran players , bringing back our safety (Donovan) Wilson, I'm excited for our fans, but more excited than our fans."
- There can't really be a media session involving Jones that doesn't include a question about Dak's contract. Again, he was asked about a possible extension and if he believes the Cowboys will do that because - they want to keep him as the face of the franchise or because it's the smartest thing to do based off the salary cap. "Both. With equal importance. Both."
- Jones has had a long-standing friendship with Washington owner Dan Snyder over the years. With Snyder, Jones was asked about the current status of his friendship with Snyder and a potential ownership change with the Washington Commanders. "It's a little more formal," Jones said of his friendship with Snyder currently. "But I think it's that way because of the various issues that are involved here. It's not lovie dovie, but it's not really strained in any way. Nothing, there have been no issues that have come up regarding the team or Dan that have created any compromising things for us. I, at the end of the day, have a little different thoughts than you read a lot about Dan, but that's understandable when you're friends. But my overall, overriding interest is that Washington team, and that Washington area, have the kind of team that they are and should be. It's one of our top handful of franchises in this country. It's a national treasure. It really is. It's the team in our nation's capital, it's highly visible and creates a unique perspective for fans as to the NFL."