OXNARD, Calif. – It's rare to hear a Cowboys official discuss a sensitive topic so bluntly, but Stephen Jones indulged the issue on Wednesday morning.
Speaking at the team's training camp-opening press conference, the Cowboys' executive vice president was asked, point-blank, whether he had spoken recently with the Seattle Seahawks about Earl Thomas.
The answer was simple: "No."
That's not likely to stop the speculation that has swirled around the two teams all year, but it was at least an update – regardless of how brief. The Cowboys have been linked to the Seahawks' All-Pro safety ever since the two teams played last December, and the scrutiny has only grown as the season has approached.
Thomas is in the news this week, in fact, as he is reportedly refraining from attending the Seahawks' training camp until his contract situation is resolved.
NFL rules prohibit club officials from discussing another team's player, so Jones couldn't talk about Thomas in detail if he wanted to. Having said that, Jones was asked – hypothetically – about monitoring situations with veteran players on opposing rosters.
"When opportunities arise out there to improve our roster, we are going to jump on that," he said. "You are always aware of what is going on, whether players are reporting or unhappy. Some times those do lead to opportunities. We will keep an eye on that."
That's not really news, in the strictest sense. Cowboys officials love to say that talent acquisition is a 365-day business. But given that Thomas is currently at odds with his front office, it's certainly an intriguing thought.
In the meantime, the Cowboys have their own safeties to evaluate during training camp, and that process begins Thursday. The front office didn't use any draft picks at the safety position during the spring, but there is a lot of optimism about the team's young's safety – particularly, last year's sixth-round pick in Xavier Woods.
"A lot of it is going to come to fruition out here," Jones said. "But we do believe there are players who are going to step up. Xavier Woods did a lot of impressive things, not unexpected."
Whether or not the Cowboys try to add to the safety spot might hinge on what their current safeties showcase in the coming weeks. But for the time being, the Cowboys' conversations sound quiet – even if the speculation isn't.