IRVING, Texas – Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones spoke with reporters briefly outside the team's locker room on Friday morning.
Jones weighed in on a number of topics in a short amount of time, from Tuesday's approaching NFL trade deadline, to DeMarco Murray's prospects of playing this weekend in Detroit.
But first, Jones was the latest member of the Cowboys organization asked about the release of defensive tackle Jay Ratlif last week, followed by his subsequent recovery as reported earlier this week.
"You guys know what possibilities are out there. Any time you get into a player, when you release him for a failed physical, there's that situation involved," Jones said. "Jay had a great career here. It was a hell of a run he had, he made Pro Bowls, and we had a lot of good times here with Jay. Unfortunately, it happens to all players – it happened to Michael Irvin, it happened to Troy Aikman – your time comes. His time came here, and it's time to move on."
There has been allusion to the details of Ratliff's contract leading to some legal issues in the future, but Jones wasn't keen to comment on the matter – similar to the stances of team owner/general manager Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett.
"There are some things that are left out there, in terms of his injury that I obviously can't talk about that. That's really all I want to say about that," Jones said.
Jones was a little more willing to discuss the NFL trade deadline, which is quickly approaching this coming Tuesday, Oct. 29 at 3 p.m. CST. He didn't speak in any specifics, but Jones allowed that the Cowboys would consider making a deal in the right situation – especially in positions affected by injuries.
"It's no secret that we're moving a lot of guys in and out in our defensive line, and that will probably continue to be the case," he said. "We've already got some workouts scheduled for Monday, in terms of just taking a look at guys … Certainly we'd look at any type of situation there, if the right deal were there. But we also can't, for a quick fix, do something that would hurt long term."
The reference to salary cap issues raised another talking point, as recent reports have indicated the Cowboys' problems with the cap in the upcoming year. Jones said any deal the Cowboys made would have to take those issues into account.
"At the end of the day, it's got to fit our cap. That's another thing: it'd have to really fit right to sacrifice our cap some, because it will be an issue for us next year," Jones said. "We certainly manage our salary cap hand-in-hand with 2013, 2014 and 2015 all side-by-side, as we manage them. We see how that affects each year."
Jones, having just returned from Friday's practice, said he was optimistic about DeMarco Murray's availability for Sunday's game against Detroit. He didn't commit one way or the other, but Jones liked Murray's chances.
"He's got a real shot. I wouldn't say for sure – he's still questionable, but we're going to see how he feels after today's practice and see how it feels on Sunday and make a decision," he said. "The good news is, just like safety, No. 21 had a good week last week, and I think he's only going to get better. And it's nice to have Dunbar back for sure, and obviously we have Tanner. So we have a good situation there, and we want to do what's right for DeMarco for the season, not just for one game."
Waiting on London
Jones, along with several other members of the Cowboys brass, was asked about the timetable for making plans for the impending game in London next year. It's an issue he said he's content to wait on until the end of the season.
"That'll be something we'll obviously get all hands on deck as soon as the season is over," he said. "We'll obviously get all our football operations guys and get with the league and really start to work on that as soon as the season is over."
Jump In, Jeff
The Cowboys are prepared to move from one rookie to another at safety this weekend.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett confirmed that third-round pick J.J. Wilcox injured his knee in Thursday's practice. That will likely lead to undrafted rookie Jeff Heath taking Wilcox's spot against the Lions. [embedded_ad]
"We feel good about those young guys," Garrett said. "J.J.'s done a nice job, he's gotten better and better with the game experience that he's gotten here in the last few weeks. We feel good about Jeff Heath as well. Both those guys have come in and been very productive in whatever their role is, whether it's on teams or on defense. We feel good about those guys, and Danny McCray's back there as well."
Garrett said there's depth at the position, even after letting veteran Will Allen go earlier this year. Garrett wouldn't rule Wilcox out yet, but it sounds right now like Heath will take the majority of snaps next to Church this weekend.
Even with Wilcox healthy last week, Heath still got in the game and took 30 percent of the defensive snaps. Garrett said Heath is big enough to play the position, runs well, has good ball skills and is instinctive.
"We like him," Garrett said. "He's been a guy who's done a lot of really positive things for us since he's been here, a college free agent who came in and said, 'I'm going to make your football team based on my performance each and every day.' He first showed up on teams, but he's been a solid performer on defense as well when he's gotten the opportunity.
"So we'll see what J.J.'s status is here the next two days and then make our best decisions on Sunday."