At the NFL owners meeting, Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett discussed the selection of the team to play in the season-opening game against the New York Giants. He also commented on the Cowboys' free agent signings.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett will stop and attend the second Alabama Pro Day on Thursday on his way him from the NFL Owner’s Meeting in Palm Beach.
“Alabama had a pro day earlier in the month and a number of their players were not able to work out cause of injury,” Garrett said. “We felt it was worth while. Logistically it made sense. I am here. I’m going back to Texas. We are going to fly right over Tuscaloosa. It made sense for me to stop there and go to this workout tomorrow
So that is one of the reasons.” Garrett has visited no other pro days this off season and is not scheduled to attend any others.
Read into it what you want. But Garrett only visited one pro day last spring. That was at Southern California. Not coincidentally, the Cowboys drafted USC tackle Tyron Smith with the ninth overall pick in 2011.
There are several Alabama players who could be targets for the Cowboys with the 14th overall pick in 2012 or in a possible move down in the first round. They are safety Mark Barron, linebacker Courtney Upshaw and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick.
Upshaw and Barron, along with running back Trent Richardson, didn’t work out in the first Alabama Pro Day earlier this month because of various injuries so they will work out tomorrow for teams and scouts, including Garrett.
Jerry Jones believes free agency went so well for the Cowboys, he can consider draft trades more easily.
Now that they don’t have to count on the draft to fill a particular position, the Cowboys can entertain a move down or a move up in the draft, which starts April 26.
Jerry explained, in his way, from the NFL owners meetings in Florida on Tuesday:
“In general, and really because of how well we did in free agency, we will be able to draft or trade,” he said. “In other words, we could easily have a situation that’s in our best interest. But if you just had to have that safety or that offensive lineman, you might not have been able to make a trade you wanted to make and go down. Or possibly go up. So my point is, free agency helped us normally, purely look at how we can best improve the personnel on this team through the draft, whether it be trading or just picking the player.”
What that means is basically that the Cowboys can afford to let the draft come to them because they can pick from a number of positions – offensive line, outside pass rusher, cornerback, defensive end and defensive tackle, for example. If they believe, say around pick 10 or 12, that there will be plenty of options by the time their pick comes at 14, they can think about a trade down. They wouldn’t have been able to think that way if they desperately had to have a cornerback, for example.
“You’ve still got to look and say you can’t put a first-round pick on a guy that’s basically going to be a backup for four years,” Jones said. “That would be hard to do. Be careful about putting that first-round pick on a tight end when you’ve got Jason Witten sitting over there. That guy’s going to be the second tight end for the next several years. You’ve got to think like that. But in general, it allowed us to do all of this kind of decisions.”
The signings of guards Mackenzie Bernardeau and Nate Livings have given the Cowboys two fallbacks in case they don't have a chance, or choose not to, draft Stanford guard David DeCastro with the 14th pick.
"It left us totally flexible there," Jones said of the guard signings. "You might want to move down and pick up a player that’s going to be there rather than being at your 14th. You might not have been able to do that had you not had the success that we had in free agency."
Owner Jerry Jones says the Cowboys ought to have plenty of motivation for the season opener now.
Now that they know they’re opening against their arch rivals, the New York Giants.
The Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
“We got it all right there, opening the season for the NFL,” Jones said Tuesday at the owners meetings in Florida, where the league announced that the first game of the year would pit the Cowboys and Giants at MetLife Stadium on Wednesday, Sept. 5. “I am very pleased with it, and I like the idea of having something like that to point to for our players in preparation for the year.”
The game ought to be filled with drama. The Cowboys lost twice to the Giants last year, at Cowboys Stadium in a game that could have all but eliminated the Giants from playoff contention, and in the season finale in New York in a winner-take-all game for the NFC East title.
Plus, the Giants are thought to have blown the whistle on the Cowboys’ and Redskins’ approach to the uncapped year in 2010.
But Jones said he and Giants owner John Mara are on good terms.
“Our relationship is good from my perspective,” Jones said. “... We will have all of this in the rear view mirror, hopefully, by the time we get to this game.”
Palm Beach, Fla _ Owner Jerry Jones said the Cowboys did so well in free agency they will open to pretty much anything in the 2012 NFL Draft, including drafting a premier player at 14 or trading out of the pick.
"Because of how well we did in free agency, we will be able to draft or trade," Jones said. "In other words, we could easily have a situation that’s in our best interest but if you just had to have that safety or that offensive lineman, you might not have been able to make a trade you wanted to make and go down. Or possibly go up. So my point is, free agency helped us normally, purely look at how we can best improve the personnel on this team through the draft, whether it be trading or just picking the player. Not a luxury, but picking the player."
More to the point, especially when it comes to an offensive lineman, Jones said the free agent signings of guards Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau, has the Cowboys not inclined to take an offensive lineman in the first round. Stanford guard David DeCastro has been a popular pick for the Cowboys on mock drafts but now they may have to readjust.
"We probably wouldn’t prefer that," Jones said. I wouldn’t. That would keep us from maybe having to pick a top player there in the first round on the offensive line. It did it both ways. It left us totally flexible there. You might want to move down and pick up a player that’s going to be there rather than being at your 14th -- you might not have been able to do that had you not had the success that we had in free agency."
Cowboys to likely target defense in first round
However the signing of cornerback Brandon Carr to a five-year, $50.1 million contract will not preclude the Cowboys from taking a cornerback in the first round, owner Jones said. Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick and North Alabama's Janoris Jenkins are the likely candidates there.
"It’s just that’s a premium position in ours and most others," Jones said. "So I don’t have an aversion at some positions (like) a special pressure player, a really good deal at corner for where you are in the draft.”
Jones said the way the draft is shaping up that is more likely that the Cowboys will take a defensive player in the first round.
He said he is very impressed with Memphis tackle and Scouting Combine phenom Dontari Poe who could play nose guard, end or defensive tackle.
"I'm impressed with him, Jones said. " Im real impressed. Im particulary impressed cause he looks like a nose and has the skill and has some pass rush about him at the five technique. I'm impressed with him. He looks good."
Cowboy owner Jerry Jones and Chargers coach Norv Turner weighed in on the Tony Romo-Troy Aikman debate stirred up last week when the Hall of Famer and three time Super Bowl champion magnanimously said that the current Cowboys quarterback was better than he ever was.
Jones respectively disagreed with his former quarterback regarding his current one. He said Aikman was being modest.
"We all know Troy does his homework and is very contentious and doesn’t deal in lilies, but to me he’s being gratuitous and he’s being modest," Jones said. "I’ve gotten three Super Bowl rings because of what he’s about. I would say one thing. We have any things I think that we agree on, his assessment that Romo is a Super Bowl caliber quarterback is one that we really agree on. But I have a little hard time making the same comparison that he did. I know what troy was and how much what we wouldn’t be today without Troy Aikman, he’s being pretty modest.
Turner, who was the offensive coordinator on Aikman’s three title teams and who has faced Romo as an opponent, intimated that there is no debate and the issue shouldn’t even be up to discussion.
While Romo has already surpassed most of Aikman’s passing records and is on pace to rewrite the Cowboys record books, Turner said his former pupil got it done when it mattered most: late in games and in the playoffs. Romo has one career playoff win.
“To me the whole key to that position and right now the numbers are always inflated so it still comes to playing great in the fourth quarter, playing great with the game on the line, and obviously playing great in the playoffs,” Turner said. “It’s hard to think or for me to name three or four guys that were better than Troy in that situation. So I think Troy was being very nice and diplomatic. There aren’t many guys I would list better than Troy Aikman. It’s not any thing of against Tony Romo or any devaluation. There are a lot of guys who make plays throughout games. There are guys who make special plays when the game’s on the line, plays that make the difference between winning and losing. That was Troy’s greatest strength.”
Jones however wanted it point out that that is even a conversation is a testament to how good Romo is and has been for the Cowboys.
He said the oft-criticized Romo is one of the team’s best asset and the reason the Cowboys will compete for a Super Bowl in the future.
“I think you’re right on it, let’s wait until Romo gets his super bowl and then we can have some fun talking about it legitimately,” Jones said. “The fact we can even sit here and talk like this says why I’m as disappointed as I am about last year and I’m as positive as I am about the years and years to come. This is a legitimate conversation relative to those guys as quarterbacks and football players and leaders, this is fun to do but is legitimate. I’m going to say it one more time, Troy is being too modest.”
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones reached out to Saints coach Sean Payton shortly after he received a season-long NFL suspension for his role in the bounty investigation.
He visited with him in Dallas and then visited with him when Payton arrived at the NFL owners meeting in Palm Beach.
Jones calls Payton, who was a former Cowboys offensive coordinator, a good friend and wanted to show him some love although he understands and respects the NFL decision.
Jones said he feels for Payton, owner Tom Benson and general manager Mickey Loomis, who was suspended for six games as well as the fans of the New Orleans. He said he feels terrible for Saints fans who have been through a lot over the years.
“I just wanted to as a friend, as a real friend, I just wanted to give him a little love in whatever way you want to call it,” Jones said. “I understand the need. I support the commissioner and what we are doing. I understand it. But I feel really bad for him and Mickey (Loomis) and Tom (Benson). I feel bad for them. It means so much to the fans of New Orleans. I feel bad for New Orleans. I have a very soft spot for them. When they are not yelling for the Saints most of them are yelling for the Cowboys.
“I feel terrible for the fans of New Orleans,” Jones continued. “But it is what it is. The fans of New Orleans and New Orleans have had to take it on the chin a lot. If anybody can handle this they can. It still doesn’t make it any easier. I feel terrible for them.”
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he respects Bill Parcells as being one of the best there is or ever was in coaching.
So he was every excited about the prospect of him replacing the suspended Saints coach Sean Payton for the 2012 season.
“First of all I thought it would be outstanding for the Saints and the NFL,” Jones said. “I see it all there. Now he has got the credibility to take it if you came in and didn’t do as well as they were supposed to. He’s got the credibility to live with that. And he’s got the confidence and reputation that if he comes to say ‘its Sean’s team” and to live with that. And I do respect him as being one of the best there is in coaching.”
If things weren't already interesting in the longstanding bitter rivalry between the Cowboys and Giants, over the $10 million cap hit imposed on Dallas by the league and spearheaded by New York owner John Mara, another caveat was added on Tuesday.
The NFL announced that the defending Super Bowl champion Giants will host the Cowboys in the 2012 season-opening kickoff game Wednesday, Sept. 5, at 7:30 p.m. It will be televised by NBC.
The Cowboys played the Giants in the 2011 season finale with the winner winning the NFC East title and making the playoffs and the loser going home. The Giants won, securing a season sweep of the Cowboys, launching their run to a second Super Bowl title since 2007.
Ironically, the last time the two teams opened the season against each other was in 2007 when the Cowboys hosted the Giants.
The last time the Cowboys opened the season at New York against the Giants was in 1995.
This is the first time the Cowboys have ever played in a season kickoff game since they were instituted in 2004, with the previous year's Super Bowl winner hosting an opponent.
The game is usually held on Thursday prior to the traditional Sunday season openers. It was moved to Wednesday to accommodate President Obama accepting the nomination to run for re-election at the Democratic National Convention.