By Clarence E. Hill Jr.
Indianapolis _ A day after Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones and several members of front office acknowledged they were going to interview Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, owner Jerry Jones added to fire by saying he wouldn't dismiss the controversial Heisman Trophy winner as an option for the ninth overall pick in the draft.
Jones said the team is in outstanding shape at the position with Tony Romo at quarterback but he said their interest in Newton is more than just doing their due diligence.
" I wouldn’t dismiss any player that’s going to be in that draft and wouldn’t express interest," So much happens with the circumstances that are there, not only on draft day but how we continue our process. But I do feel like we’re in really top shape. . . I’m going to really say outstanding shape at the position. Obviously, a quarterback to draft right now is a future consideration. For that reason, I wouldn’t dismiss him or any position."
Of course this could be a smoke screen Jones in hopes of forcing another team to take Newton ahead of the Cowboys in hopes of pushing the players they really want down to them at nine.
Jones said his goal for the early pick is to be an immediate contributor, which would seemingly dismiss Newton. He also said that quarterback is not immediate need though it shouldn't be dismiss.
As far as needs go, Jones pointed to the offensive line, the defensive line, safety and cornerback as the biggest areas of concern.
Jones acknowledged that if certain defensive linemen were available at No. 9 the Cowboys couldn't look the other way.
Possible defensive line targets who are considered top 10 players are Alabama's Marcell Dareus, Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers North Carolina's Robert Quinn, Auburn Nick Fairley and California's Cameron Jordan.
No roster moves likely
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said the team will likely not release anyone before the March 3 deadline, signaling the end of the 2010 league year and ushering in a possible lockout.
But he hedged his comment by saying their could be one exception.
"I probably won’t do that," Jones said. "At this time, on our roster, there’s only one – as of that date. We have the right to do that later as well."
Two players on the roster bubble for next year who have dates tied to money are tackle Marc Colombo and running back Marion Barber. Colombo is due a $2.6 optioin bonus on the 15th day of the new league year, which jives with Jones' comments about having the right to make a move later.
Barber is due a $500,000 roster bonus in June.
No comment on free agents
Jerry Jones declined to comment when asked if the Cowboys were going to pursue any of the current free agents on the market before the March 3 deadline.
Safeties Bob Sanders and O.J. Atogwe, who were released by the Colts and Rams respectively, could fill a huge need for the Cowboys as could defensive tackle Shaun Rodgers, who was released by the Browns. Rodgers is intriguing cause he played for defensive coordinator Rob Ryan when he was with the Browns the last two years.
Jones however refused to offer an opinion on either but also declined to say the Cowboys weren't interested.
"That would be a competitive thing, I don't want to comment there," Jones said.