There has been a lot of speculation around these parts about whether the Dallas Cowboys are ready to part ways with Felix Jones. It has generated enough buzz that Charean Williams at the Ft. Worth Star Telegram asked the powers that be at Valley Ranch about the situation. The response was pretty unequivocal.
That wasn't the only answer to her question, as the article she wrote goes on to explain.
From the scouting department to the front office, the texts came back "no", "not at all" to "Hell No! Totally Inaccurate."
Although misdirection and smokescreens are common in the NFL, this does not look like that. This seems to be a genuinely honest and forceful denial. There is even a sense of anger at the idea.
More on the subject after the jump.
Rob Phillips at DallasCowboys.com followed up very shortly with an article on the topic.
Felix Jones' name may have popped up this week in conflicting reports on whether the fifth-year running back has been the subject of trade rumors, but head coach Jason Garrett's comments about Jones during last month's NFL meetings suggested he'll remain an integral part of the offense in 2012.
"With Felix one of the things that's exciting about him is he can handle a lot of different roles and a lot of different things," Garrett said.
The team seems to be in pretty full rumor control mode. The team is clearly signalling that the plans for 2012 include Felix.
This seems to be a case of adding one and one and coming up with granola. While the team has shown some interest in draft prospects Doug Martin and Cyrus Gray, adding another running back would be much more of a threat to Phillip Tanner's roster spot than Felix's. The backs they have looked at so far during the offseason have all been from a similar mold as DeMarco Murray. The logic would seem to be that Murray went down with injury last season, and the team did not have as much success running the ball; therefore, the team needs someone like Murray who can step in and keep things going. That hardly negates the value of a change of pace back like Jones.
But it is the rumor season. Take the possible interest in drafting a running back or signing one after the draft is done, add in the often expressed view that Felix is a bit of a bust for a first round pick, and suddenly speculation bloomed that the team could trade Jones or even cut him outright. The assumption seemed to be that Murray plus Tanner plus a new guy would be better than Murray/Jones/new guy, which is more than a little bit questionable.
Update: In looking back over my last post, I was kinda sucked into the Watkins/Graziano rumor mill. So my tone here is a bit inappropriate. Sorry about the inconsistency.
The denial shouldn't surprise anyone. The forcefulness was a bit eye-opening. I suspect there is a very deliberate bit of standing behind the player here, because he is valued. Even if the team brings in a stud rookie, it is not going to improve anything to dump Felix. And given that the team has been rather selective in the prospective running backs they have looked at, Phillips is probably right with his conclusion.
Jones is entering the final year of his 2008 rookie contract. It's not out of the question that the Cowboys take a running back at some point in this year's draft, but if not, they already have a stable core of Murray, Jones and Phillip Tanner for at least 2012.
So those of you proposing trading or even cutting the Cat can tap those brakes. There are a lot of things that could happen with the Cowboys before the 2012 season starts, but this does not look like one of them.