Cowboys not pursuing Jones trade
Owner/GM says he likes idea of keeping backfield the way it is
12:02 AM CDT on Thursday, March 15, 2007
By TODD ARCHER / The Dallas Morning News
IRVING – Julius Jones is not on the trading block, according to Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones.
With running backs such as Willis McGahee (Buffalo to Baltimore) and Thomas Jones (Chicago to the New York Jets) traded so far in the off-season, Julius Jones' name has been mentioned as the next possible ball carrier to be dealt.
"I don't see that happening," Jerry Jones said. "We have got a team that's going to need some great plays from that position, and I like what we've done there with [Marion] Barber.
"More than likely, unless we have an opportunity in the draft to do something, we'll be going with the running back group we ended the season with. Hopefully we can have [Tyson] Thompson there that could give us a third back."
Jerry Jones declined to say if a team has contacted the Cowboys seeking Julius Jones.
Jones, who is entering the last year of his contract, is coming off his first 1,000-yard season (1,084 yards). In 35 career starts, he is averaging 81.8 yards rushing per game, and he owns two of the top four rushing games in team history.
With Jones and Barber, who scored a team-high 16 touchdowns last season, the general manager believes he has a tandem worth keeping together.
"There is an advantage if you can have one back do it," Jones said, "but it's probably not realistic anymore. Emmitt [Smith] was an exception."
No more free-agent splurges: The Cowboys have made one giant splash in the free-agent market by handing Leonard Davis a $16 million signing bonus, and Jones said it's not likely the team will make a second such splash.
"I don't think we're done in free agency, but we would be done if we don't see an opportunity of value to improve our team," Jones said. "I don't see us at this juncture doing a pretty significant contract, but I wouldn't want to preclude it either because you've got movement and you've got teams making decisions and waiving players."
Jones said the offensive line is in better shape than it has been in 10 years and he is comfortable with the free safety position. He is counting on the draft more than free agency to help fill some needs for depth at linebacker and defensive line.
New stadium Built Ford Tough: When the Cowboys move into their new stadium in 2009, Ford will not be part of the naming rights, but the motor company will have a significant role in the new facility.
The Cowboys and Ford on Wednesday announced a 10-year extension on a sponsorship deal through 2018 that includes stadium signage, as well as a title sponsor for training camp (Built Ford Tough Dallas Cowboys Training Camp) and a Texas high school football player of the week award. Jones said coach Wade Phillips will be a presenter at a season-ending banquet for the award winners.
QB on the draft wish list? Only once since 1991 have the Cowboys drafted a quarterback (Quincy Carter, 2001), but the club could choose one this year, although not in the first or second round.
"We know it takes some years to get them ready to play for the most part, and I think it's a good way to go if we get the opportunity," Jones said. "I wouldn't be drafting a player because I'm looking in a different direction other than [Tony] Romo. I'm not doing that. We're talking about someone we can bring along and have as some long-term future."
Briefly: Jones said he expects Terrell Owens, recovering from a second surgery on his right ring finger, to be back for parts of the team's off-season conditioning program, which begins March 26.
Jones said the team has not made a decision on whether to match Tennessee's offer to restricted free-agent linebacker Ryan Fowler, but one could come before Monday's deadline. Fowler signed a four-year offer sheet worth $11.5 million from the Titans that will pay him $5 million this season.