Notes: Witten’s Role, Thanksgiving Vote; More

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PHOENIX – Any time Jerry Jones speaks, there’ll be a variety of topics to cover.

The Cowboys’ owner and general manager spoke to reporters for roughly 30 minutes on Monday, covering a variety of issues surrounding the team during this 2019 offseason. Jones touched on everything from contract negotiations to free agency acquisitions and more.

Here are some highlights.

  • The Cowboys have made several mid-tier free agent signings at positions of need, which has become their custom in recent years. Jones touched on the additions of Randall Cobb and George Iloka, as well as several signings along the defensive line, and he said he likes the way those additions free up the decision-making in the coming weeks. “We have put ourselves in position to have total flexibility as to have taken care of the need,” he said. Despite those additions, Jones specifically mentioned defensive line, safety and tight end as positions the Cowboys are looking at in next month’s NFL draft.
  • As might be expected, DeMarcus Lawrence remains the chief topic of conversation this offseason. The Cowboys used the franchise tag on their All-Pro pass rusher last month, but the two sides are in the middle of a contract negotiation. Read more on Lawrence's contract situation here.
  • Tyrone Crawford was involved in an altercation in Panama City Beach earlier this month. The veteran defensive end was videoed in a scuffle that involved employees at a local bar, as well as police. Crawford wasn’t arrested or charged with any crime, although the NFL is reportedly investigating the situation. Jones didn’t provide much of an update on the matter, stating simply: “He is a very high character guy for us. I don't have detail on that.”
  • Jones could only smile when asked about the possibility of Jason Witten playing a reduced role in 2019. When the longtime tight end initially returned from retirement, reports indicated that he would play a smaller snap count than in years past, when he never came off the field. Jones’ reply to that was simple: “Knowing Witten, I have got to see it.”The Cowboys signed veteran safety George Iloka to a one-year deal on Saturday night. Iloka comes to Dallas after making 79 career starts with Cincinnati and Minnesota. The common logic is that the 6-3 Iloka gives the Cowboys a strong safety to pair with Woods, but Jones said he was impressed by the veteran’s versatility. “I think he, the fact he played some free and the fact we, that's the way we like to play them, we like some interchangeability back there,” Jones said. “He does have some experience and I think when you add of all that up, he fits that pretty good, he's not just a total down guy. He gives us position flex and in the competitiveness aspect of it.”
  • Word leaked last week that the Philadelphia Eagles wanted to propose a minor NFL rule change that would see Dallas and Detroit alternate Thanksgiving home games, with one of the two teams playing on the road every year. Given the Cowboys’ longstanding tradition of hosting a Thanksgiving Day game, it was only natural that Jones would be asked about the rule – which was unanimously shot down by the NFL’s Competition Committee. As might be expected, he made a tongue-in-cheek joke about the Cowboys’ longtime rivalry with the Eagles. “Certainly, we’ve got a great rivalry and I’m still so jealous that I’m screaming in my pillow about them winning that Super Bowl up there. But that’s going too far – that’s rubbing it in,” he said. Jones had to have been pleased to see the proposal voted against so thoroughly, as he said “I think, as a whole, most people see the value to the league of what we do on Thanksgiving and the great tradition of the Lions having it on Thanksgiving as apart from what it means for the individual team – that it is good for the NFL.”

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