Stephen Jones Says A Lot With Few Words

single-season sack record holder, the designation he came up just three sacks short of in 2008.

So before you start playing all this fantasy football stuff here at the start of free agency, first ask yourself this before suggesting the Cowboys need to sign this guy or that guy:

If I do this, will I have enough money left to pay Ware what's going to be the highest salary of any NFL defensive player? Will I have enough cap space left to hand arguably the best defensive player in the NFL like $30 million in either signing bonus and/or guarantees on a five-year deal?

If you know anything about how the Joneses do business, they prioritize, and then tackle the top priority first and then move on to the next highest. So if you are looking for the Cowboys to make that "splash" in free agency, then watch for Ware to land a cannonball of a contract . . . first.

Because when asked if signing Ware to an extension is the top priority this off-season, Jones said, "Absolutely . . . over anything."

Now that right there is saying a lot.

Jones had a lot to say on another topic. In fact, he had so much to say, and apparently enough pent-up anger, that he couldn't even wait until the question had been completed. You probably can figure out the topic. Owens, of course.

There have been these sourced reports floating around about how Stephen is trying to convince his father to cut Owens, that he sees the error of the Cowboys' ways and understands better than his dad how T.O. is no better for the locker room than a lead balloon, the hydrochloric acid of chemistry.

So the question was: Were you offended last week when your name was linked to . . . .

He needed to hear no more. Stephen could answer that question after just 11 words.

"That's absolutely incorrect," Jones said. "That's all I'll tell you. That's incorrect. We have our discussions but we never had - we're on the same page, I can assure you of that."

There you go.

Now having said all this, listening to Stephen with Rayfield Wright walking by, and at times Charlie Waters and Cliff Harris and Daryl Johnston, other former Cowboys players intimately involved in this Super Bowl XLV project that seemingly is becoming quite infectious in the area, he also didn't make it sound as if the Cowboys were going to buy tickets for front row seats to free agency.

After all, when you go 9-7 in three of the past four years, you do have needs, and the Cowboys even more so if they should lose defensive end Chris Canty in free agency.

"Our philosophy is to improve our football team, whatever that entails with whatever means that we have," Jones said. "Everybody knows we have a tight cap situation and we're trying to improve ourselves. That's our philosophy for free agency, the draft and anything else that might be involved.

"We have things we feel like need to be addressed and certainly we're going to address those."

Certainly Stephen, one of those has to be backup quarterback?

"I wouldn't get into those," Jones said coyly.

But that does not preclude us from doing so.

Backup quarterback is a no brainer, since they released Johnson, who was going to be owed $2 million, what with a $500,000 roster bonus due, along with the possibility of $1 million in incentives being earned, which would have counted against this year's cap since next year, when it normally would have counted, is potentially an uncapped season. Plus, Brooks Bollinger is an unrestricted free agent.

A few more suspects were dropped into the available but less-than stellar pool with the recent releases of Rex Grossman, Trent Green, Damon Huard and Jeff Garcia. The trick will be to find someone capable of winning two of three games with Tony Romo sidelined with injury instead of coming within four points of losing all three games as Johnson did in 2008.

Then, to me, a defensive lineman, end or nose tackle. Sure, Jay Ratliff can transition to end if Canty can't be re-signed, but then who is going to play nose tackle, the position he played to a Pro Bowl level?

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