It has been a strange day. The team literally took the day off from football, we had some server issues that have made it hard for people to come and get their daily Dallas Cowboys fix on BTB, and some people are engaging in out of character behavior.
For instance, when Jerry Jones showed up at the annual team golf outing, the media approached him - and he declined comment.
Rumors of a six and a half foot long empty vegetable pod at Valley Ranch are, to date, unverified.
You'd think Tony Romo would take advantage of a golf event where he could hardly be criticized. But even when the team invites everyone to come out to the Dallas Cowboys Golf Club (Jerry Jones may be acting funny, but he does not miss a marketing trick), Romo finds discretion the better part of valor, and stays home.
And if that is not bad enough, while Jerry Jones is staying away from the microphones, the management is still cracking some lame jokes.
"I just think Tony's got a lot on his plate now with his new role as coach," executive vice president Stephen Jones joked.
That was, of course, SJ's take on the recent discussion about Romo's "expanded" role in the offense. While he was making a slightly awkward joke, given that Jason Garrett was also at the event, SJ did try to tamp down a little on perceptions of how big this move is.
"Tony's always influenced the offense," Stephen Jones said. "Obviously, as he matures more in his career, that's what happens with quarterbacks, they have more influence. I think he'll have even more this year. I do believe him, Bill Callahan, Jason [Garrett] and the offensive staff are on the same page. It's just that we want to do some things that we feel like may work better."
On the same topic, Jason Garrett went even further in downplaying the whole thing.
"It's similar to every quarterback situation in the league," Garrett said. "I have been a quarterback in this league. I have been around those dynamics. I have been quarterback coach. I have been the offensive coordinator. In every organization you are trying to get that report with the quarterback and the offensive coordinator."
Now, this makes me a bit uncomfortable for a couple of reasons. First, I think that is supposed to be "rapport", not "report", and I am kind of embarrassed to see the professional writers make that kind of mistake. "Embarrassed", in this sense, means "jealous that they can get away with crap like that and still get paid while I am just blogging for free." But more importantly, I hate seeing the mixed messages coming out of the front office. It almost makes me wonder if SJ and JG talked JJ into taking a break today just to try and do some spin control. OK. There is not much "almost" to that.
And there was some pretty blatant massaging of the message going on on other topics as well out on the golf course. Stephen Jones must have been getting dizzy when he answered questions about recently departed running back Felix Jones.
"The guy played for us in a significant role," Jones said. "The shelf life for a running back is not long. We are pleased with the career he had here with us."
There is a trait I hate in anybody, and that is the refusal to admit you were wrong. It is hard to find SJ fully credible when he won't admit to even a tiny smidgen of disappointment with how Felix turned out. I mean, he's already signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, so you don't have to talk up his career to try and help him out any more.
That signing with the Eagles may actually have benefits down the road for the Cowboys, however. Each year, 32 compensatory draft picks are awarded in the NFL. Dallas did not get any this year, but that should change after the coming season. The rules on how they are awarded are somewhere between arcane and adherence to IRS standards, so I don't pretend to grasp how it all works. Besides, they are part of a "proprietary formula", which is code for saying the league can pretty much do it however they want to. But some good stuff on figuring this out has been done over at the Blogging the bEast site run by our frenemy and closet Cowboys and BTB fan (look at the name of his site, folks), JimmyK. He has a contributor who does a very accurate projection of compensatory picks each year, and this explanation comes from his 2013 version.
1. Players that are cut or not tendered as RFAs and ERFAs are not counted.
2. Players earning low minimum salaries do not count.
3. Each player signed cancels out one player lost.
4. The round of the pick awarded is primarily determined by the annual value of the contract signed. Signed players cancel out lost players with equal contracts, then lower contracts, before canceling out higher contracts.
With those in mind, look at the current situation for Dallas regarding free agents this year.
|Signed by Dallas||Contract||Signed away from Dallas||Contract|
|Justin Durant||2 yr/$2,365,000||Felix Jones||1 yr/$780,000|
|Will Allen||1 yr/$905,000||Mike Jenkins||1 yr/$1,500,000|
|Kenyon Coleman||1 yr/$1,005,000|
|Victor Butler||2 yr/$3,000,000|
|Marcus Spears||2 yr/$2.750,000|
|Kevin Ogletree||2 yr/$2,600,000|
|John Phillips||3 yr/$5,275,000|
These are all the players involved to date, based on my understanding of the rules (Dan Connor, for instance, does not count, because he had already been cut prior to signing elsewhere). I also think this is affected by who actually makes the final rosters this fall, so clearly some of these names might come off the chart. But based on how it looks now, Dallas is coming out ahead next time around. I don't know what round Dallas will see picks in, or exactly how many, and have no idea how other teams that may be involved in bigger contracts will do, but the Cowboys should do pretty well.
Of course, the other big, enormous issue for the Cowboys is the Doug Free situation, and SJ had some words on that subject as well.
"I think we're on the same page with Jimmy (Sexton, Free's agent) and Doug, as far as timing," Stephen Jones said. "We're positive. Hopefully he's positive and we're trying to work through it all."
The team seems in no hurry, and looks to be taking a "grind him down" approach.
Another question on the offensive line concerns the often less than stellar guard play. It was a bit of a surprise when Mackenzy Bernadeau revealed that he played the last six games of the year with a previously undisclosed injury, suffered against the Cleveland Browns. It was similar to Demarcus Ware's shoulder injury. He's had surgery, but it is not certain that he will make it back for the start of OTAs next week, although he is much improved.
This would be a bit disheartening, since the offensive line woes really started last year when Bernadeau and Nate Livings both were unable to practice, and then other players began dropping out of the line like the current level of trust in the IRS. Hopefully, Bernadeau will be back for most if not all of the OTAs. It would be good to see an intact line working together and getting completely on the same page.
As a matter of fact, I was speculating on whether the O line should join rookie Travis Frederick in growing some manly, ferocious beards. A couple of years ago, we dubbed the line the Yuglies at the start of the season. This year, maybe it could be the Beards. Fredbeard could be joined by Tybeard, Natebeard, Philbeard, Berniebeard, Ronbeard, Jermeybeard, and of course, everyone's favorite encore, Freebeard.
I've been waiting all day to write that.