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Cowboys news: Jerry Jones won’t rule out signing Dez Bryant or Jason Witten

Plus, the Cowboys new coach spent some extended time with the media at the NFL Combine.

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Hall of Fame Game Dolphins v Cowboys Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Jerry Jones won’t rule out WR Dez Bryant returning to Cowboys - Todd Archer, ESPN

Jerry Jones has a soft spot for his long-time players. He is not ready to shut the door on Dez Bryant or Jason Witten.

“He’s had a serious injury,” Jones said. “He’s been out a little bit, but Dez is a great player and the obvious [question] is the obvious: Is he still a great player? We know Dez better than anybody. I know him better than, I’m going to say anybody.”

Bryant reached out to executive vice president Stephen Jones this offseason about a return. Earlier in the week, Stephen Jones said it was something the staff would look at, but the team’s focus has been on its own players with free agency approaching.

Bryant had harsh words for some teammates, such as Sean Lee and Travis Frederick, after he was cut. He had been critical of former coach Jason Garrett as well, but Garrett has been replaced by Mike McCarthy.

Jerry Jones said those issues “are reparable. They really are because the very best of Dez is what I remember. The very best of him. I remember a lot of good things [that] far overshadow the negatives for me as a player. Now the question is, can he perform and can he overcome that injury and can he get in the kind of shape that it takes to be available?”

Jones on Witten:

On Jason Witten returning as a player for a 17th season: “I feel like he can play and I would hope he would not ever be anything but a Cowboy. It’s meaningful,” Jones said of the tight end. Witten has said he wants to continue to play but said he is open to playing elsewhere. Jones said the potential holdup in a return would be Witten’s willingness to accept a different role.

Mike McCarthy doesn't feel the same as old regime regarding scheme fits & draft prospects- David Helman,
Mike McCarthy is excited to be more involved in the draft process in Dallas than he was in Green Bay.

What’s clear is this: McCarthy doesn’t care so much about the scheme as the ability of the players running it.

”I’ve always felt that — and really part of it developed because in Green Bay, when you’re picking 26, 27, 28, you’re down there in the 20s every year — when you’re throwing away good players because they don’t fit your system, you got to take a hard look at your system,” McCarthy said. “If the guys is a good football player, he can play for me.”

That’s a striking quote for anyone who has followed the Cowboys in recent years, as the organization has often shied away from free agents and draft picks due to one dreaded phrase: “scheme fit.” It’s encouraging to think that idea could be left in the past, even if not completely. McCarthy acknowledged that he too values certain body types, measurables and traits, and the Cowboys will undoubtedly use those to pinpoint their next crop of draft picks.

Key takeaways from a lengthy visit with new Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy – Jon Machota, The Athletic
The deep dive into embracing analytics may not have been just a ploy for Mike McCarthy to get the Cowboys gig.

5.) Analytics will be used “as much as possible.”

“Just talking with our guys last night, there are a lot of good classes and seminars going on here Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday,” McCarthy explained. “All of our guys have been part of that. We’ll get together Monday morning with the group. We’ve broken up into what we call pods. So we have a game-management pod. We’ve met exclusively with CAI and Telemetry. These are third-party programs we already have in our building, so how can we enhance that?

“At the end of the day, it’s really going to be taking all these great ideas and deciding which ones we can formulate and fit into our everyday operation. We have a quality control analyst. Those guys are part of the coaching staff. If it’s not integrated in our everyday deal, then we won’t use it. But we have a good plan. It’s going to take a lot of work to get done what we want to get done, so I’m curious to see all that they’ve seen in the last couple days and see if they’ve seen anything we want to add. … Analytics will be a healthy part of what we do.”

Mike McCarthy says Dak Prescott is definitely the QB that can get Cowboys to Super Bowl- Todd Archer, ESPN
Mike McCarthy made a statement in support of his new QB Dak Prescott, says he's the guy to lead Cowboys to another title.

“I think No. 1, you just look at what he’s done during his time in the league. I think he’s been impressive,” McCarthy said of Prescott. “I’ve been impressed with him since the first time I saw him play live up in Green Bay [in 2016], when they came to Lambeau there. First impressions, I think are very important when you see quarterbacks on the field because in-person evaluations, particularly at that position, have always carried more weight as far as how I felt about a player. So I think he’s gotten off to a great start. He’s built a really good foundation. I’m told he’s a tremendous leader.

”Defenses get you to the championship. The quarterbacks win championships. And I definitely think Dak is that quarterback.”

Dak Prescott's agent meets with Cowboys to talk deal - Jeremy Bergman,
The Cowboys would really like to get Dak Prescott's extension done prior to the franchise tag period.

Prescott’s agent, Todd France, met with Cowboys brass in Indianapolis on Wednesday to discuss an extension for the Dallas quarterback, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported. ESPN first reported the news. It was the first time the two sides had talked turkey since September.

Prescott is slated to be an unrestricted free agent when the new league year begins on March 18, but he is a potential franchise tag target when the tag window opens on Thursday. The window closes on March 12, six days before the start of free agency.

Talks between Prescott and the Cowboys have been dormant since the start of the 2019 season, which was Dak’s best statistical campaign of his four-year career. Prescott threw for a career-high 4,902 yards and 30 touchdowns at a career-best 8.2 yards per attempt.

The holdup in negotiations is partly due to the current negotiations between the league and the NFL Players Association regarding a new collective bargaining agreement.

Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones told reporters Monday, “We’ve been wanting to see how this labor agreement is going to go. Obviously, it makes a big difference on a contract this big. Obviously, we’re optimistic and our goal is to get it done before you have to tag, the last day to tag (March 12).”

Jerry Jones refers to Dak Prescott as family member, but adds deal "has to fit" - Charean Williams, ProFootballTalk
Jerry Jones is not fazed by CBA holdup, he knows that Dak Prescott is his man and he's the top priority without question.

The proposed CBA calls for only one tag, which would complicate matters for the Cowboys with both Prescott and receiver Amari Cooper scheduled to become free agents.

“It’s what it is,” Jones said. “We’ll just have to figure out a way to [get it done]. . . .There’s no question it’s going to put on a bigger angst.”

Prescott is the priority at the moment, though.

Jones said, via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, that his feeling about Prescott’s future with Cowboys is “the same that I feel about Stephen [Jones]. There’s no going forward without Stephen or one of your family members, so you’ve got to get it figured out. This is a deal I have to get done, but it has to fit.”

Football Outsiders say Cowboys should pay Prescott even at expense of losing Cooper - Tony Thompson, CowboysWire
If the Dallas Cowboys have to choose between quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper, the choice is clear.

It’s not just because having a top-flight quarterback is the most important thing in all of team sports. It’s also because the Cowboys offense wouldn’t function at all without Prescott. It could, conceivably, continue motoring along without Cooper. The analytically inclined Football Outsiders discussed exactly this recently, citing third-year Michael Gallup as one of the reasons Dallas could survive the loss of their de facto No. 1 receiver.

This is a situation the Cowboys shouldn’t overthink. Prescott finished first with 1,546 passing DYAR and sixth with 27.2% passing DVOA. They should loosen their purse strings for him, even if it costs them the ability to keep free-agent skill players Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb, and Jason Witten. Michael Gallup’s 13.6% receiving DVOA fell short of Cooper’s 22.4%, but it was still top-20 in football. He can be the team’s new No. 1 receiver if they lose Cooper.

Amari Cooper and the Cowboys chances of drafting a wide receiver in the first round - DannyPhantom, Blogging The Boys
The Dallas Cowboys have yet to re-sign Pro Bowl wide receiver Amari Cooper. With a very talented draft class coming out, should the team make other plans at the position?

While the Cooper deal certainly has worked out in the Cowboys favor, the one big trade-off is that the team must now allocate a nice chunk of cap resources to keep him on the roster. Nice things cost money. Whether the organization is willing to shell out that kind of moolah has been a popular talking point around the water cooler of Cowboys Nation. It’s an odd thing to ponder really as Cooper has been everything the team has hoped for within the Cowboys offense. Squabbling over where his final dollar figure should end up feels like semantics. He’s a really good receiver and he’s earned his big contract.

For those arguing against handing out some heavy scratch to Cooper in order to save cap space, one big selling point is the opportunity to land one of the top collegiate receivers in the upcoming NFL Draft. As it looks right now, there are three guys who are projected to go in the top half of the first round, and it’s not unreasonable to think that at least one of those receivers will be available when pick 17 rolls around.

Mike McCarthy's comments would suggest Cowboys plan to re-sign Randall Cobb - Michael Gehlken, SportsdayDFW
Mike McCarthy has always been a big supporter of Randall Cobb since their time in Green Bay. The Cowboys new coach seems to suggest the plan is to keep him around in Dallas.

“He was banged up a couple of years prior to that, but I thought he had a heck of a season last year in Dallas. I was very impressed with his video.”

Last March, Cobb signed a one-year deal worth $5 million.

He followed with 55 receptions for 828 yards and three touchdowns. The yardage total was his highest since 2014 when posting career highs of 91 receptions, 1,287 yards and 12 scores. McCarthy envisions tapping into Cobb’s versatility.

“I did a lot more with [Cobb] being behind the line of scrimmage than they did with him last year,” McCarthy said. “But I thought he played great in the slot and did some things as a single receiver. I thought he probably played as well as I’ve seen him play just the pure receiver position. But he has that capability, and you look at his background, I mean, he was a [college] quarterback. So he gets it. He’s wired that way. And I don’t think you can have enough of those kinds of guys.”

Cowboys Draft Digest No. 5: Top pass-rushers are safe picks. Can Dallas find one? – Bob Sturm, The Athletic
Cowboys might be considering an edge rusher over other positions when they clock in at 17th overall in this year's draft.

AJ Epenesa — Iowa — 6’6 — 280

It sure seems that Iowa is turning into another NFL factory in the trenches, with offensive and defensive linemen continuing to emerge into the top ranks of each year’s draft classes (as well as tight ends, of course). Epenesa is another very impressive power-forward type who has immense height/weight and a frame that carries it easily. He was All Big-10 in 2018 and 2019 and basically put two monster seasons back to back as a sophomore and junior. He is of Samoan descent and has startling power.

Overall: I realize all evaluators have a type, and it is really possible that this player just appeals to what I look for in a defensive end. I think he can cause all sorts of problems with his height and weight when combined with his explosiveness, but he will also be doing most of it as a 4-3 mauler rather than a cheetah around the edge. As long as you know what type of player he is, he can be both a power rusher and a real run-stopping force. I like him plenty and would be happy to stick a FIRST-ROUND grade on him. I’d also suggest this should be a consideration in Dallas at no. 17.

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Jerry Jones spoke on Thursday and we have some thoughts.

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