WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – When the NFL owners get together every year, there's always big news to discuss.
Not only are there rule changes on the table that need votes, but it's also the time of year that team executives discuss free-agent movement and prepare for the draft.
On Tuesday, Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones addressed all of that and more. Here are some highlights of his interview session with the media.
- What's left for the Cowboys to address in free agency? The kicker position, for one, according to Jones. The club was hopeful to re-sign Greg Zuerlein to a new contract but he signed with the Jets. The Cowboys have former SMU kicker Chris Naggar on a Reserve/Future deal but would also like to sign a veteran.
- "Offensive line in general" could also be a free-agent focus before the NFL Draft. "So that we can keep our draft pure, we'd like to get a player or two there so we're not feeling pushed to go too high early and often if the right player's not there," Jones said. The Cowboys have a hole at left guard because of Connor Williams' free agent departure and there's not an established backup tackle under contract at the moment, though 2021 fourth-round pick Josh Ball could be a candidate for the swing tackle job.
- Jones, a member of the NFL's competition committee, weighed in on the league's new postseason overtime rules giving both teams an offensive possession. "I just think everybody watched that unbelievable football game between the Bills and the Chiefs and I think the thing cried out that we consider a second possession," Jones said. "Especially in overtime, you look at the data and the statistics, the team winning the toss (since 2010), they're 10-2, whoever wins the toss in the playoffs."
- The Cowboys start their formal draft meetings Monday, and Jones says this year's draft looks "very deep" because many prospects stayed in college last year with an extra season of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "Lots of numbers in this draft, and it's a good time to have nine picks," Jones said.
- The Cowboys had a defensive-minded draft in 2021, with eight of 11 picks devoted to that side of the ball. Could this year be more of an offensive-minded draft? Jones didn't go that far, but he acknowledged that the club has seen offseason departures at wide receiver, tight end and offensive line. "You lose Amari (Cooper), you lose Ced (Wilson), you lose Connor Williams, we thought Blake Jarwin was going to be around here for four or five years and unfortunately the injury situation got to him," Jones said. "I've already mentioned those are some of the areas (of need) because we do have quite a bit of depth in the defensive front with what we did in free agency. We got Leighton (Vander Esch) back there at the linebacker spot. We got the safeties we wanted back and we've got a good situation there at corner. You never say we're only focused on offense. If there's a defensive guy is sitting there and you've got him rated a lot higher than the other guys, that's where we've had our success. It's not being pigeon-holed to taking one particular thing."
- The Cowboys placed the franchise tag on tight end Dalton Schultz earlier this month. Could both sides work out a long-term deal before the mid-July deadline? "We've just got to see kind of where we end up with everything from an overall standpoint," Jones said. "But obviously the fact that we franchised Dalton tells you all you need to know about what we think about him. We'll just kind of see how that progresses."
- A move that can get somewhat lost in all of the free-agent news here lately is the decision to cut La'el Collins. Jones was asked what happened to make the Cowboys "sour" on a player who had been a regular starter. "I don't think soured is the right word. You have to make tough decisions. Obviously, Terence Steele played into that and what we think he could be. The way he goes about his business. The way he's played - his arrow is up. He's only going to get better. When you start having to make some decisions from a business standpoint, that was one that we felt we needed to make. But there's o one has soured on La'el. We think a lot of La'el."