The Dallas Cowboys are well represented at the 2022 NFL Combine in Indianapolis and are theoretically hard at work at improving the team’s roster in hopes of finally (for real this time!) getting over the hump as a franchise.
It is incredibly difficult to run an NFL team and it is even more difficult to do so at a high level to where your team has success season in and season out. Nobody here is saying that they could do a better job than the Cowboys’ brain-trust, but right now the group charged with leading this team isn’t exactly inspiring confidence.
Tony Casillas and I discussed this whole idea during Tuesday’s episode of The 75O. Make sure to subscribe to the Blogging The Boys podcast network so you don’t miss any of our shows! Apple devices can subscribe here and Spotify users can subscribe here.
This most recent playoff loss felt like pivot point for a lot of fans with a lot of frustration being felt. Disappointment is not a new thing for Cowboys fans, but there seems be a sense of apathy among some in the fanbase to where they no longer believe that this team could even accidentally stumble into legitimate success.
Stephen Jones spoke on Monday at the NFL Combine and his comments sort of line up with that vibe.
Stephen Jones’ initial comments from the NFL Combine are rather discouraging
We spoke about Stephen’s comments here at BTB on Monday and centered mostly on what he had to say about Amari Cooper and DeMarcus Lawrence. The team’s EVP remained non-committal on two of the most important players saying that it is “too early to address that” and that “there are a lot of moving parts.”
If the Cowboys want to retain Cooper and/or Lawrence, then the decision doesn’t need to be one that they drag out at every chance they get (which is what they have been doing since the season ended). The writing on the wall very much looks like Stephen has convinced himself that Dallas needs to save money somewhere and that this might be where it has to come from.
This is part of the unfortunate cycle that Jones has trapped the Cowboys in. The sequence is rather predictable at this point:
- Wait too long to pay players by not being proactive and reading the market (Lawrence and Dak Prescott come to mind)
- Blink first when backed into the corner he painted himself in (Lawrence and Prescott are prime examples, Ezekiel Elliott also forced this hand)
- Complain about how there is only so much “pie” to go around and that when large chunks of it are going to certain players (the ones in steps 1 and 2) it makes team-building difficult
- Move on from important contributors in the name of cap savings because the team needs space to sign their “value” players
- See new talent come in (which Lawrence and Prescott were once upon a time and where Micah Parsons will be someday) only to send us back to where we started
None of this is being said to overly defend Amari Cooper and/or DeMarcus Lawrence. It is my personal opinion that moving on from either would be unwise for a team looking to contend this coming season, but that isn’t even a philosophy that Jones shares. He literally said in this same session that if the Cowboys really wanted to they could kick the can down the road for things but that they are not interested in that.
Doesn’t sound like the Cowboys will be following the Rams’ all-in strategy. Cowboys EVP Stephen Jones: “We could do some things that would allow us to keep most of our guys if we wanted to push it all out, but then we’d have a much bigger problem next year and the year after.”— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) February 28, 2022
There is not exactly an army of Mike McCarthy supporters, but imagine being him and hearing something like this knowing that he is in a year of critical importance. It speaks to the priorities of things not being in full and total alignment which has been the problem with the Cowboys for a long time.
As if it weren’t frustrating enough that Dallas is dropping these bread crumbs of anxiety, Stephen Jones also openly contradicted himself in the name of favoring a preferred player of the brain-trust. When asked about Ezekiel Elliott, he sang a completely different tune noting that he wants that guy on his team and literally guaranteed his place on the roster.
Stephen Jones on Ezekiel Elliott: “I want that guy on my team. You talk about playing through some injuries. He’s a competitor. I think he’s a damn good running back. … Obviously, his money is guaranteed. He’s going to be here, there’s no question. We’re fortunate to have him.”— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) February 28, 2022
Elliott played most of the season with a torn PCL which is certainly admirable, but not the flex for the team that Stephen Jones thinks it is. The Cowboys literally used an injured Elliott more than Tony Pollard when the latter is arguably the better runner even when both are fully healthy.
Jones’ comments about Elliott are completely different from what he had to say about Cooper and Lawrence, despite them being larger contributors to the team’s cause. He allowed ambiguity around Cooper and Lawrence to fester while outright guaranteeing that Elliott would return. Obviously Zeke’s cap number is what it is (another Stephen specialty), but if the team really wanted to move on in the name of improving the team then they could.
It is difficult to trust that the Cowboys are headed in the right direction at the moment. They seem set to part ways with players who could significantly help their chances of winning which would not exactly send the message that their top priority is winning.
Hopefully they prove us wrong.