2010 NFL Draft: Is Jerry Jones Tipping His Hand?

With the NFL Draft less than a month away, has Cowboys owner Jerry Jones tipped his hand?

By now most of you are familiar with Dez Bryant, the star wide receiver from Oklahoma State. The Star-Telegram recently wrote that  Bryant may have validated himself as the “best receiver in the NFL Draft” during his most recent workouts.

Bryant is a homegrown talent who hails from Lufkin, Texas. As a senior he was a member of the Texas Football Super Team first-team and was All-state selection after recording 53 receptions for 1,207 yards with 21 touchdowns.

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll had some glowing remarks,

“He had a solid day.  I don’t know how it will affect him, but he has terrific hands, catching ability, and I really think he looked best running his routes and making plays on the ball.”

KTRE Sports Director, Nick James, said the following:

 “Dez looked explosive. He ran well, he caught the ball well and he looked like he was in shape.”

Jones and the rest of the Cowboys’ top brass will get their first up-close look at Bryant today and Thursday.

Yesterday, it was learned that Jerry Jones also plans to have dinner tonight with Bryant before a visit to Valley Ranch on Thursday.

The thing that interests me is why the sudden interest by the Cowboys in Bryant when everyone expects him to be long gone before the Cowboys select 27th in the draft?

With the emergence of Miles Austin and some great playmaking flashes from Kevin Ogletree, I didn’t see wide receiver as an area of deep concern for the Cowboys.

Although he was expected to be a definite top ten pick,  Bryant could drop a little bit due to questions about his character, but definitely not as low as 27th.  His stock has dropped simply because he was suspended for most of his senior season for lying about his involvement with Deion Sanders, yet another Cowboys connection.

Will the Cowboys make a push to trade up and select him on Draft Day? Who really knows, but it’s something worth keeping our eyes on.

Heck, he already owns an orange Cowboys jersey, how about a silver and blue one too?

Today Is Deadline For Tendering Offers To Restricted Free Agents

Today is a big day for the Cowboys as they must tender offers to their 13 restricted free agents by the 11:00 pm CST deadline tonight.

You can be sure that both wide receiver Miles Austin and safety Gerald Sensabaugh will both receive high tenders from the Cowboys and that neither will be going anywhere.

Clarence E. Hill of the Star-Telegram speculates that Austin will receive the highest tender possible — a one-year salary of $3.168 million and compensation of a first- and third-round pick if he signs with another team.

Sensabaugh will likely be tagged with the first-round tender of $2.62 million. If he signs with another team, the Cowboys would get a first-round pick in return.

The other Cowboys restricted free agents include:

DT Stephen Bowen
G Cory Procter
G Duke Preston
DE Jason Hatcher
NT Junior Siavii
WR Sam Hurd
S Pat Watkins
OT Pat McQuistan
DE Marcus Spears
PK Shaun Suisham
CB Cletis Gordon

Of those eleven, I suspect that 3-4 of them may not be returning next season including Suisham and Gordon.

I was very surprised when the Cowboys decided not to place the franchise tag on Miles Austin last week which would have paid him a guaranteed one-year, $9.52 million deal that would’ve required another team to give up two first-round picks as compensation for signing him to a non-matching offer sheet.

I was a little worried that we might be exposing Miles Austin to a slight risk of employment elsewhere if another team should beat the Cowboys tender, but felt more at ease after reading this in the Dallas Morning News.

Not many teams in league history have been willing to relinquish a first- and third-round pick for a restricted free agent. Almost none, in fact. In 1998, Bill Parcells brought restricted running back Curtis Martin with him from the Patriots to the Jets. The Patriots were unwilling to match the Jets’ six-year, $36 million offer sheet and took a first- and third-rounder in return. Eighteen players received the high tender over the next 10 years. None were pried away by a rival’s offer sheet.

Good to know…

Franchise or Not, Miles Will Stay In Dallas

According to a recent post at the Cowboys will not franchise Miles Austin nor will they sign him to a long term deal. What?

“We don’t need to use the franchise tag,” said Stephen Jones. “How many times have you seen another team give up a one and a three?”

“It’s very difficult for us to make an offer when we don’t know what the system is going to be. I’m not saying that it won’t happen, but it may be difficult,” Stephen Jones said. “We want to win next year, but we want to win in the future.”

Jerry Jones was quoted on ESPN radio saying the Cowboys will do whatever it takes to retain Austin.

“We’re just not going to have Miles Austin any place but with the Dallas Cowboys,” Jerry Jones said on ESPN/103.3 FM radio.

I’m sure that the recent comments from Stephen Jones will send some into a tizzy and spur on an onslaught of posts raising the panic alert, but all Jones did was explain the course of action regarding Miles Austin and the current climate surrounding the yet to be determined collective bargaining agreement.

Obviously the owners want to reduce the rate of salary growth while the players union want the opposite. It may take some time before they come to an agreement that suits both of them.

With the financial picture so cloudy and hard to predict, it makes it difficult for all NFL teams to negotiate long term deals with their current players.

Would you go out and buy a new house after finding out that your company was laying off 300 workers next month?

How can the Cowboys negotiate a big deal with Austin when there’s even a slight chance that there still might be a cap, and if the owners get their way, a smaller cap…

Another huge contract on top of those already given to Roy Williams, Tony Romo, DeMarcus Ware and Marion Barber could suffocate the Cowboys and prevent them from making any other additional moves.

Hopefully, a new collective bargaining agreement will be in place by March 5, 2010, thus making it easier for the Cowboys and every other NFL franchise to navigate through their offseason plans and better prepare for the new season.

Miles Austin isn’t going anywhere. He is now one of our most prized possessions and there is no way the Cowboys would risk losing him.

Roy Williams Listed As Day-To-Day

Several sources are reporting that Roy Williams is listed as day-to-day and should return soon. The reports say Williams has a contusion (bruise) on his left shoulder.

Dallas News has this quote from Jerry Jones during his radio appearance this morning:

“I’m not implying that we have a long-winded thing here,” said Jerry, who stated that the Cowboys will not consider signing a veteran receiver. “Based on our review here, we’re talking about a very short timespan. I don’t know that he’ll go Saturday … but he’ll be out there real quick.”

Star-Telegram reports,

The Cowboys confirmed Roy Williams’ negative x-ray in an email this morning. There was no fracture to his shoulder. They will continue to evaluate him on a day to day basis with a shoulder contusion, which is a fancy word for a bruise.

However it is still unlikely that Williams will play against the 49ers on Saturday for precautionary reasons. If he does sit then look for him miss the preseason final against the Vikings on Thursday and return for the regular season opener against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Hopefully we lucked out and Roy will return for the season opener and be fine. Isn’t this just our luck?

The Secondary Is A Primary Concern

With the draft just around the corner, some feel it’s time to start thinking about a corner. It certainly seems that the deal for Tennessee Titan Adam Jones is inevitable but, considering his past antics, that brings little security at the position.

The Dallas secondary isn’t nearly as inept as some "experts" would have you believe. Pro Bowl CB Terence Newman is coming in healthy this year which is huge. Anthony Henry holds his own most of the time. Henry had 6 interceptions in 13 games last season. While not stellar, that is still more than the two previous seasons(28 starts) combined. Newman had 4 INT’s in as many games.

This "lacking secondary" had 19 INT’s last year. Tied for 4th in the NFL in INT’s doesn’t seem lacking or inept to me. The secondary was and is above average in every category. Things have a tendency to get skewed because of the occasional big play given up by the secondary. Just keep in mind the injuries suffered by Newman and Henry throughout the season. Newman fought through foot and knee injuries throughout the 2007 campaign. Henry had a nasty ankle late last season. So the alarm about the Dallas secondary- at least the CB’s- is much ado about nothing.

We all know Roy Williams isn’t a traditional safety. I’ve been a huge critic of Williams over the last 2 seasons. Williams is a great run defender. He had 30 more tackles in 2007 than in the previous season. But I’m sure everyone will agree that if there is a hole in the secondary. That hole wears the number 31. He can’t cover TE’s like Shockey or Cooley consistently.

A 2/28/2008 report in the Star-Telegram brings up concerns about Williams’ behavior in relations to the players and staff. The Star- Telegram reports: " He has become a bit of enigma in the locker room; the defense normally goes out to eat as a unit on Thursdays during game weeks, but Williams seldom attends. He has displayed a tendency to blame others for pass coverage breakdowns, something his teammates have noticed… Coaches, former coaches, teammates and ex-teammates have tried to talk to Williams, but they often receive the same defiant and defensive posturing he takes with his "friends" in the media."

Why not trade Williams? Nobody is going to take the salary cap hit that Williams would bring to the table. He signed a 4 year, $25 million extension in 2006. Trade him? Not gonna happen.

So as we approach the April 26 2008 draft, do we need go to after a corner? Maybe we consider a safety instead? Maybe use Williams in short-yardage and goal line situations in 2008? I don’t pretend to know all the answers to these questions. What I do know is this team is so so close to that illusive 6th trophy. It’s there for the taking. Right around the corner.

Barber and Cowboys to Talk This Week

According to reports at the Star-Telegram, the Cowboys are expect to start talks with Marion Barber and his agent this week at the NFL Combine. Barber is a restricted free agent that had a very impressive season this past year and looks to make a long term deal with the Cowboys.

For those of you who remain interested in Darren McFadden, I don’t think this is going to happen. The Cowboys have $13 million left in their salary cap and have to take care of their free agents and draft picks. McFadden would cost the Cowboys a lot of money that they just don’t have to spend. Stranger things have happened but I don’t see it.

Personally, I think the Cowboys should hold on to Marion Barber and draft another running back. They are going to need a backup. Julius Jones is definitely not sticking around and Tyson Thompson did horrible last year, even thought he didn’t get much of a chance. I’m not sure how many running backs are available in free agency, I doubt very many good ones. They are definitely hard to come by.

Lock up Barber! Do it NOW!


Injury Update: Glenn, Crayton, Newman

The rumors are true! Terry Glenn has been out on the practice field this week. He practiced Wednesday and Thursday, running routes without pads or even a jersey. He has been ruled out for Sunday, but according to the Star-Telegram he was quoted saying, "Don’t rule me out! Don’t rule me out!"

I doubt we will see him play this Sunday, but if all goes well he may make an appearance in Carolina. The predictions are that we won’t see him until the playoffs. Either way, its great to see him back on his feet.

In other injury news, Terence Newman returned to full practice on Thursday, after spending Wednesday in the workout room. He had sprained his toe in last week’s game against the Lions.

Patrick Crayton also returned to practice Wednesday, he sprained his foot in Detroit and had been seen wearing a walking boot on Monday.