MOBILE, Ala. – As is usually the case when Jerry Jones speaks publicly, a lot of ground gets covered.
The Cowboys' owner and general manager attended the second day of Senior Bowl practices Wednesday at Hancock Whitney Stadium. As is customary, he took time to check in about where things stand as the Cowboys ease their way into the offseason.
Here are a few highlights:
- It's early in the offseason to be zeroing in on specific free agent situations, so it felt telling that Jones mentioned Randy Gregory on Wednesday. The veteran pass rusher is headed for free agency after notching six sacks in 2021, and Jones allowed that he had met with Gregory's agent during his stay in Mobile. Given all the ups and downs the Cowboys have been through with Gregory since drafting him in 2015, Jones sounded optimistic the two sides could make something work.
"Knowing our time together and some of the pluses and some of the times that we've had to work through and some of the not-so-fun things, that will serve us well," Jones said.
- Much has been made of the struggles of the Cowboys' offensive line in the playoff loss to San Francisco. The Cowboys surrendered five sacks to the 49ers and were unable to generate much in the running game, which has highlighted it as a problem spot heading into 2022. Jones said he'd like to see a more disciplined unit next season – as well as a more physical one. He also allowed that the Cowboys are looking to address their depth, possibly even with draft picks this offseason.
"That's why we're down here. We're looking for players that have position flex, we're looking for players that can block a zone, that can block gaps," he said. "We want players that are capable of doing any technique and any offensive line design the coaches want to do."
- Jones has made no bones about his level of frustration in such an early playoff exit after a 12-5 season. He has also noted that challenge of getting a team back into that position in a league with so much annual turnover. Wednesday, he pointed out that a big reason for the frustration is how healthy and complete his roster was at the outset of the postseason. He acknowledged that challenge of building back to that point.
"You let me get right back with exactly the same players, as healthy as we were and I'll take that. And not at all complain," he said. "As a matter of fact, I can go to sleep if I can get back to that and get in the game with us at 12-5 and same rankings of picking right after we get in the playoffs. I'd take it just like that, not ask for a penny more. But then I'd want to play better in the playoffs."
- A big part of that challenge will be retaining and replacing a lot of important players. The Cowboys have several big-name free agents, and they'll have to get creative in order to keep a lot of that talent. In some cases, they'll have to pivot and try to replace that production elsewhere. With that in mind, Jones mentioned his hope and his faith in the Cowboys' draft process to help with that.
"When you have guys like [Jabril] Cox that show up and could become a star for you, [Nahshon] Wright become a star, where is [Micah] Parsons? Now you say well that's a dream from there," Jones said. "We're going to have, if given an opportunity and necessity dictates, those guys come up. I can't say which one it will be. They can't say which one it will be. Nobody can say which one it will be. But if we work hard and give them the exposure and we do some of that in free agency, that will be the same way to have it happen for us as well. The constant here is we have great coaches, great staff."