IRVING, Texas – As the NFL Owners Meetings continue on, owner/general manager Jerry Jones took time late Tuesday afternoon to address a variety of topics, from Tony Romo extension talks to free agency to his offensive line.
The cap-strapped Cowboys don't have much room to maneuver or bring on any high-profile free agents at the moment. Right now, the focus is on getting Romo extended for a few more years. Jones doesn't sound too worried that the Cowboys will be able to get that done.
Jones spoke for 35 minutes on the current state of the team prior to the draft. Here are some of those highlights:
- Jones suggested that an extension for Romo will happen soon. He didn't want to provide an exact date, but he feels good about where Romo's at in his career and the dialogue with the quarterback, which is ongoing. He understands fans' concerns not getting a deal done yet, but he said he has a better idea than most about where the talks stand. He's not concerned it will be a long-term wait before a deal is reached. He also said the contract won't hamper personnel decisions, which likely means it's doubtful the team would go sign a high-profile free agent immediately after getting a deal done.
- Jones joked that the offensive staff would deploy Romo according to his pay scale. He expects Romo to be the focal point of the offense and said the quarterback won't be paid to be the bus driver. Jones thinks the offense can be more creative in utilizing Romo and his greatest attributes. He thinks the team can and will win with Romo, but for that to happen, Romo needs to have a prominent role in the offense. By extending Romo and committing the resources toward Romo, the team needs to get the most out of his skills.
- DeMarco Murray's injury history concerns Jones, who said any back with durability problems can cause concern. Felix Jones also played through injuries this season and was thought to be out of the picture, but Jerry Jones said he hasn't dismissed Felix from his thoughts moving forward. He thought Felix still did some good things, despite the injuries holding him back. Jerry Jones also thought Dunbar did well with his few chances and has a knack as a receiver out of the backfield.
- Mackenzy Bernadeau had shoulder surgery, but Jones doesn't think it will set him back. The guard should be ready when the team needs to hit, and he expects the group of offensive linemen to be healthier than they were at the start of last season. He said Bernadeau won't overdo it at Organized Team Activities, but he should get a full training camp and some work in minicamp. For more on what Jones had to say on Bernadeau, click here.
- A final decision hasn't been made on Doug Free's future, but that could happen prior to the draft. Jones liked the situation he had with Free and Jermey Parnell rotating, and he doesn't want to dismiss the money they'd have to spend by cutting Free. He thinks Free might be better suited as a left tackle, and his ability to play either side might make a difference as Jones weighs the options. He could see either Free or Parnell being a swing tackle, and if Free's still around during training camp, they both could compete for a starting role at right tackle. To continue the story, click here.
Jones said the Cowboys really wanted Anthony Spencer. More specifically, Monte Kiffin and Rod Marinelli were impressed after watching tape on him and thought he could be a difference maker in the new defense.
- The addition of Derek Dooley as the wide receivers coach is one Jones really liked. He said Garrett clearly holds a great deal of respect for Dooley, who will have a lot of input in the passing game.
- As far as the players Dooley will be coaching, Jones said Dez Bryant is just getting started in his rise as an NFL star, and Romo and Garrett echo those thoughts. He doesn't want to discard Miles Austin's injury history, but Jones believes because of Austin's age and work ethic, it's not inordinately risky to count on him having a healthier year. [embedded_ad]
- The team isn't handicapped by the cap situation, according to Jones. He said he made a long-term commitment to the nucleus of the team, and the Cowboys can still draft the best player available rather than search for need. One of the areas the Cowboys have some questions at is safety, and Jones is looking for players with range who can run. He said he likes Barry Church and isn't sure yet about Matt Johnson, though they both will compete to start.
- The Cowboys will start camp early and go to the Hall of Fame game. Jones has known about that possibility for two or three weeks, and it's now officially confirmed. He wants to have the extra game and extra practice to get more time to evaluate.