Receiver Jesse Holley said he is still talking to the Cowboys and hopes to come back. But if not, he's thankful for the chance the Cowboys gave him and hopes he’s established enough of a body of work to get another NFL job.
“I’m pretty confident that some way, somehow, a team will like me enough to bring me in and give me a fair shot,” he said Wednesday at a charity event in Grapevine. “So I’ll go with that and work my way up the ranks again like I have before. I’ve never been a stranger to hard work or having the odds set against me.”
Holley, an exclusive rights free agent, did not get a contract offer from the Cowboys. That leaves him open to signing with another team or signing a new contract with the Cowboys, who probably did not want to pay him the going rate for an exclusive rights tender.
“I expected for them to at least sign me back,” Holley said. “So it was a blow. But it’s nothing personal. It’s a business. So you go with that.”
Holley has spent three years with the Cowboys since landing a spot in training camp in 2009 by winning a reality show, Michael Irvin’s "4th and Long." The show pitted 12 receivers and cornerbacks in a competition for the 80th spot in the Cowboys’ training camp that year.
Holley won the show, stuck through camp and was signed to the practice squad. In 2010, he was active for 14 games and was the Cowboys’ third-leading tackler on special teams.
Last year, he caught seven passes for 169 yards, including a 77-yard catch to set up a winning field goal in overtime at San Francisco. Six of his seven catches went for first downs. He also played special teams again.
Holley, who said he has been in contact with five other teams, said he would like to come back to the Cowboys and has high hopes for the team this year.
“This team is going to be a good team,” he said. “I’m still a Cowboy at heart. Coach Garrett has really got these guys going in the right direction. He’s brought in a bunch of top-notch free agents. He’s really shored up a lot of holes we had last season. I’m confident that Coach Garrett and Jerry really have this team going in the right direction. Once those guys get here and in the minicamps and get jelled in, I think it will definitely be a team to reckon with next year.”
Holley said right now, he has to remain patient, stay in shape and be ready for his next chance, wherever it is.
“No matter what happens, I’ll always have a play in Cowboys history,” he said, thinking about his Week 2 catch in San Francisco. He laughed and said, “Hopefully, I’ll be around for a third and fourth play.”
Then he added, “I thank the Cowboys for everything they’ve done for me. It’s been an honor to play for such a great franchise. I hope I can continue to play for them.”
-- Carlos Mendez