Dallas Cowboys: Johnny Manziel

Chat recap: Re-thinking QB position

July, 17, 2014
Jul 17
IRVING, Texas – In our weekly chat on Wednesday, we touched on a number of subjects, including the recently released Kyle Orton.

We also discussed:

To read the full chat, click here.

But I wanted to delve a little deeper into one subject from the chat and that’s Johnny Manziel. Wait, who? I kid. Here’s what I was asked:
Steve (Tyler, Tx): Any second thoughts on passing on Manziel now that Kyle Orton has retired?

Todd Archer: I was waiting for this question. It's an interesting scenario isn't it? Well, first off, Orton didn't retire. He was cut. Now, I believe he wanted to retire but was going to show up to camp so he didn't have to pay back bonus money. But that's splitting hairs. Let's say the Cowboys did this back before the draft. Wouldn't their philosophy have been different regarding the quarterback? I believe so. I don't think they regret not taking Manziel because we're using hindsight of what we know now and not what we knew then.

After the Cowboys took Zack Martin in the first round, Jerry Jones said the Cowboys really spent no time talking about taking Manziel with the 16th pick in the first round. A little later in the offseason, Jones said the Cowboys seriously considered it. So Jones kind of covered the bases with those answers.

Had the Cowboys made the move with Orton before the draft, I believe Manziel would have been more of a consideration. Remember, they had not seen much from Brandon Weeden before the draft. The organized team activities had not started by that time.

The drama that Manziel would have brought to the Cowboys would have been overwhelming, but I don’t think the Cowboys – or any team – should act in fear of what might happen off the field with fans’ reactions or media interpretations. I think they did the right thing in taking Martin from a football perspective. He makes the offense better in 2014 and potentially the defense better in 2014. Manziel likely wouldn’t have made either better in 2014. Maybe not in 2015, either.

Would I have felt differently if Orton were gone by then? Perhaps. I think Manziel will be an excellent quarterback.

If Orton was gone by May and if the Cowboys passed on Manziel, then I believe they would have adjusted their thinking about drafting a quarterback at all. The position wasn’t discussed much during the draft. But the guy I think they would have taken in the middle rounds if he was available: Tom Savage.

Savage went to the Houston Texans in the fourth round. Why Savage? One of the reasons why they liked Devin Street so much was the fact that he played in a pro-style offense at Pitt. Savage was his quarterback. Savage was the quarterback when the Cowboys ran Street through a private workout. Jason Garrett has a close relationship with Pitt coach Paul Chryst.

What could have been for the Cowboys

July, 8, 2014
Jul 8
IRVING, Texas -- Things are quiet at Valley Ranch these days. Most members of the Dallas Cowboys are on vacation, enjoying their final few weeks of downtime before training camp begins in Oxnard, California.

Everybody loves the fact it’s quiet, but things can change at any moment. Every team fears the 2 a.m. phone call, like every parent fears them.

So far, things have been quiet. But it could have been so much different had the Cowboys taken a different path in recent drafts.

The Cowboys wrestled with the idea of taking wide receiver Josh Gordon in the 2012 supplemental draft. They put in a midround bid for him only to be jumped by the Cleveland Browns, who took him with a second-round pick, in the selection process.

Coach Jason Garrett spoke with Baylor coach Art Briles numerous times about Gordon in the evaluation process. The Cowboys liked Gordon’s ability even if he didn’t play football in 2011 after transferring from Baylor to Utah. They felt they could help with the off-field issues that bothered Gordon and could fashion a similar plan to the one that helped Dez Bryant.

On July 5, Gordon was arrested and charged with driving while impaired after speeding down a street in Raleigh, North Carolina. He was already facing a year-long suspension for failing a drug test and is reportedly scheduled to meet with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell this month.

The Cowboys also passed on Johnny Manziel with the 16th pick in the first round of this year’s draft. The Texas A&M quarterback seemed to be a Jerry Jones dream, but the Cowboys' owner and general manager listened to his football people and drafted guard Zack Martin.

Manziel has been in headlines ever since he won the Heisman Trophy as a redshirt freshman with the Aggies. This offseason he has been a frequent visitor to Las Vegas, and many photos have been taken and distributed of his time there.

The Browns have asked Manziel to calm down his off-field life, but Johnny Football hasn't slowed down. He has done nothing wrong other than failing to realize perception is reality when it comes to quarterbacks.

This isn't to congratulate the Cowboys for what they didn't do because they would have taken Gordon if no other team had put in a better bid and would have taken Manziel if they did not have so much money committed to Tony Romo.

But it shows you just how much luck can be involved in decisions.

The Cowboys could very well be getting the late-night calls the Browns are receiving. Every team could.

Training camp can't get here fast enough -- for every team.
IRVING, Texas -- AT&T Stadium is a money-making machine.

Nearly 105,000 packed the joint over the weekend for George Strait’s final concert. It was the most attended concert ever in North America.

Nearly 85,000 saw Mexico beat Ecuador recently in a friendly leading up to the World Cup. It was the largest soccer crowd not only in Arlington but the entire state.

The Dallas Cowboys will sell out every game in 2014, and the stadium will get its fair share of publicity.

But have the Jacksonville Jaguars opened up another future revenue stream for Jerry Jones and his $1.2 billion stadium?

The Jaguars are removing 9,500 seats from one of the end zones at EverBank Field and putting in a two-level party deck complete with pools and 16 cabanas. The cost is $12,500 per game for one of the four poolside cabanas on the first level that includes 50 tickets. The upper level offers 20-ticket packages without pool access that cost $3,000 per game.

Jones loves to talk about the party passes available for fans to stand and watch the digital boards, if not the live action. Could he scheme up some sort of cabana-like project on the end-zone platforms? If Jacksonville can get $12,500 per game, what could the Cowboys fetch?

Heck, Jones once mentioned he would like to host some swimming championships at the stadium. He wasn't joking. We think. But with his recent reversal on how difficult it wasn't (that was the draft-day story) or was (that's what he said the other day) to pass on Johnny Manziel, it’s hard to know what’s true and what's not these days.

Often times the Cowboys have said the stadium was built with the future in mind. They have room to grow all over the place.

Indoor cabanas at AT&T Stadium? Why not?

Tony Romo blocks out Johnny Football

May, 28, 2014
May 28
IRVING, Texas -- During the NFL draft process, Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones and executive vice president Stephen Jones spoke to quarterback Tony Romo about the potential of drafting a quarterback.

The Jones family wanted Romo to know about the commitment they were making to him.

So instead of selecting quarterback Johnny Manziel with the 16th overall pick, the Cowboys snagged tackle/guard Zack Martin.

"I think you're going through, during that time, more than anything, you're excited about adding a football [player] and a guy who can help your football team," Romo said. "I think the organization has done a great job of going about the process of getting some people on the defensive and offensive lines that can help change the football game, and that's ultimately a difference … in our way that we're drafting now, and it shows we're committed to that. And that's how you win in the National Football League."

Stephen Jones said Romo didn't care if the Cowboys selected Manziel and noted Romo would beat out anybody on the roster at his position. Yet, of the nine selections in the draft, seven were defensive players.

The only offensive players snagged were fifth-round wide receiver Devin Street and Martin.

The draw to select Manziel was a strong one for the Cowboys, who had him ranked high on their board when the No. 16 pick came up.

"I knew what our team was hoping for in the draft, and so I think it was a great time to look at some of the top players that were available," Romo said. "And I knew we had a couple of guys up there and Zack was one of those guys, and once he was available I knew we were really excited about him. It's great that we got a guy with his ability at that spot in the draft, and I think it's going to show it's going to be a really good draft when it's all said and done."

Romo happy Dallas building through line

May, 22, 2014
May 22
IRVING, Texas -- Tony Romo never really sweated the possible selection of Johnny Manziel by the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of the draft.

He was more than happy to see the Cowboys select Zack Martin in the first round. That gives Romo three first-round picks up front in left tackle Tyron Smith, center Travis Frederick and Martin. It also had him remembering what it was like early on in his time as the Cowboys’ starter.

“When I first started playing we had some pretty good players that did some really good things for the organization, and I think we’re building that back to that point,” Romo said.

In 2006, left tackle Flozell Adams and center Andre Gurode made the Pro Bowl. In 2007, the Cowboys signed Leonard Davis to a big contract and he made the Pro Bowl with Adams and Gurode. Right tackle Marc Colombo and left guard Kyle Kosier were solid players as well.

In 2011, the Cowboys dismantled the line, cutting Gurode, Davis and Colombo and started the rebuilding process by drafting Smith with the ninth overall pick.

“As a quarterback, that half-second, that tenth of a second can make the difference in completing a pass or not,” Romo said. “A lot of that is dictated as to whether or not you have that extra time. I think it goes to show the organization is building through the lines and that’s the way you win in the National Football League late in the year.”

Cowboys offseason wrap-up

May, 22, 2014
May 22
» NFC Wrap: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South » Grades

With free agency and the NFL draft in the rearview mirror and training camp just a couple months away, we assess the Dallas Cowboys' offseason moves.

Best move: The Cowboys could not make big splashes in free agency and their 8-8 record kept them in the middle of the pack in the draft as well, so the best move was not one regarding personnel. It was coaching. Elevating Rod Marinelli to defensive coordinator after the Cowboys finished last in the league in 2013 was their best move. With the Chicago Bears, Marinelli had a difference-making defense that could create turnovers at will. He also had Pro Bowl-quality players such as Julius Peppers, Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs. He does not have that in bountiful supply in Dallas, unless Sean Lee can stay healthy or Henry Melton returns to form from injury.

[+] EnlargeDeMarcus Ware
AP Photo/Kevin TerrellWill the Dallas Cowboys regret not re-signing DeMarcus Ware?
Riskiest move: DeMarcus Ware put up 119 sacks with the Cowboys from 2005-13, but the club believed it was time to move on after Ware had just six in 2013. A quadriceps injury forced Ware to miss the first three games of his career in 2013 and he was slowed by other maladies. The Cowboys did not make an attempt to offer Ware a reduced contract and simply cut him. Within 24 hours he was signed to a three-year deal by the Denver Broncos with $20 million guaranteed. For this 4-3 scheme to work, there must be an accomplished right defensive end. The Cowboys believed Ware’s time as a dominant pass-rusher was over but did not pick up his replacement until the second round of the draft, selecting DeMarcus Lawrence.

Most surprising move: With the 16th pick in the first round, the Cowboys had a chance to select Johnny Manziel to be Tony Romo’s eventual successor. It seemed to be a perfect marriage of the attention Jerry Jones seeks and the spotlight Johnny Football enjoys. Jones passed on Manziel, recommitting his faith in Romo, who signed a six-year, $108 million extension last season, and making a smart move in picking up Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin. He will be a Day 1 starter and give the Cowboys three first-round picks on their offensive line, which will help Romo and potentially help a defense if the Cowboys can control the clock.

Numbers game: The emphasis of the Cowboys’ offseason has been about the defense, but they have taken a quantity-over-quality look. They had some interest in Peppers and Jared Allen after releasing Ware, but only at a reduced rate. The Cowboys signed Melton, who is coming off an ACL injury, to a one-year deal with an option for three more years if he plays at a high level. They signed Jeremy Mincey and Terrell McClain to low-risk deals. They kept Anthony Spencer, who is coming back from microfracture surgery, on a one-year deal. They even signed Amobi Okoye, who did not play last season due to personal medical issues, in hopes a reunion with Marinelli will rejuvenate him. The flashiest addition might be Lawrence, and it is difficult to expect rookies to hit the league running.

A quick study on possible 2015 QBs

May, 21, 2014
May 21
IRVING, Texas – Are you upset the Dallas Cowboys did not draft Johnny Manziel?

If you want to start thinking about quarterbacks who could be available in the 2015 NFL draft, ESPN.com's Jeffri Chadiha has an early look at the class.

Chadiha mentioned Florida State's Jameis Winston, Oregon's Marcus Mariota and UCLA's Brett Hundley as the top three right now, but all would have to forego eligibility before entering the NFL. Mariota and Hundley contemplated a move this year.

Another name to keep an eye on was Baylor's Bryce Petty. He should be on Heisman Trophy lists this season as well. Head coach Art Briles continues to put out quarterbacks with big numbers.

A year ago at this time, however, nobody really new Central Florida's Blake Bortles and he was the third pick in the draft. It is all bound to change over the coming months.

The Cowboys have made it pretty clear that they are not into developing quarterbacks for other teams. Tony Romo is in the first year of the extension he signed in 2013 and is not going anywhere, but Kyle Orton, if he plays this season, will be a free agent in 2015, and Brandon Weeden would be entering the final year of his deal.

What if the Cowboys miss the playoffs again? What if Romo gets hurt? Maybe next year is the year they start the process. ESPN Insider Mel Kiper also offers up his first big board, Insider but you have to be an Insider to read it all.
Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones told SiriusXM radio Wednesday afternoon that he had a chat with Tony Romo regarding speculation the team might draft a quarterback.

The Cowboys didn't, bypassing Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel at No. 16 overall and instead taking Notre Dame tackle Zack Martin. The team did not use any of its nine picks to select a quarterback.

With talk about whether the Cowboys should draft a quarterback to eventually replace Romo so prevalent, Jones said he wanted to remind Romo about the team's commitment to him.

But Romo's confidence in his abilities never wavered.

"We did it, everybody had a visit with him along the way," Jones said. "Jerry [Jones, Cowboys owner/GM] included, myself included, and told him how this is his football team and how much we think of him and with all the rumors flying around not to pay attention to that. His response is, as you might expect from Tony, it was 'Well if you decide to, it ain't going to matter, there's not anybody out there that can beat me out.' "

Stephen Jones said during the interview there's a belief Romo can play at least four more seasons, and there was no need to draft a quarterback to sit and watch despite Romo's age (34) and ongoing recovery from a second back surgery.

Avoiding circus played role with Manziel

May, 14, 2014
May 14
IRVING, Texas -- In order to avoid some of the circus certainly to be involved in the selection of Johnny Manziel, the Cleveland Browns are limiting access to national media at the team’s rookie mini-camp this weekend.

By doing so, the Browns have created even more of an issue.

Could you imagine the Cowboys ever doing such a thing? Of course not. They would have loved the attention. At least that’s the most commonly held perception.

But speaking on a conference call with season-ticket holders on Tuesday, executive vice president Stephen Jones hinted the circus was part of the reason why the Cowboys passed on Johnny Football in the first round.

The Cowboys had Manziel highly rated on their draft board but opted to take Zack Martin instead.

“We all felt like he’s a great football player,” Jones said. “At the same time a lot about what Johnny is is the ‘it’ factor. I think it will be really hard for a guy like Johnny Manziel to sit on the bench and watch. That was a factor in our decision making. I don’t think he’s like an Aaron Rodgers, who was very patient and watched Brett Favre for two or three years to wait his turn.

“The minute he walks in there’s going to be controversy. In the National Football League we know it, you don’t win every game and have tough ones you lose and quarterbacks are in tough situations.”

Why the Cowboys didn't draft a QB

May, 12, 2014
May 12
IRVING, Texas -- For all of the talk about the Dallas Cowboys drafting a quarterback, they never really considered selecting one.

[+] EnlargeBrandon Weeden
Tony Dejak/AP PhotoThe Dallas Cowboys are viewing 30-year-old backup Brandon Weeden as their "developmental quarterback."
After the first round, owner and general manager Jerry Jones said picking Johnny Manziel, "wasn't even a thought," despite loving the former Texas A&M quarterback who ended up with the Cleveland Browns.

The Cowboys liked several lower-round quarterbacks, such as Tom Savage, but passed on all of them. The Cowboys have not drafted a quarterback since taking Stephen McGee in the fourth round of the 2009 draft. Since 1989, the Cowboys have drafted only four quarterbacks: Troy Aikman, Bill Musgrave, Quincy Carter and McGee. Steve Walsh was taken in the first round of the 1989 supplemental draft.

With Tony Romo coming off his second back surgery and Kyle Orton's future in question, many thought the Cowboys would take a shot at a quarterback.

"We feel in signing Brandon Weeden, he can be viewed as that developmental guy," coach Jason Garrett said. "A first-round pick a couple of years ago, coming from a baseball background, has all the physical tools you want. We view him as in that role right now, so we wanted to be selective about anybody else we wanted to bring in here."

So no Savage, no Aaron Murray, no AJ McCarron. The Cowboys did sign Dustin Vaughan as an undrafted free agent and he was on their draft board.

At quarterback, "the best players who play typically come from the top rounds," Garrett said. "I do think with how the league has changed, there is a demand to play those guys earlier and that changes the dynamic of taking your time to develop guys year after year and they play in years four and five. The thing you’re concerned about is developing them for somebody else. You develop them for two, three, four years and he goes and plays for another football team. We don’t think that’s a worthwhile thing. There’s been a theory around the league, teams like Green Bay for years always took a guy late and if that player develops into something that was a good thing for their team or to trade to somebody else. There were some examples of them doing that. It’s a philosophy a lot of teams, they agree with that. But when you have other issues on your team I think it becomes a little bit of a luxury to do that. When you feel good about your starter and you feel good about your backups, we feel it’s better to take a position player, a guy we know can contribute on special teams, instead of trying to develop that guy [quarterback]."

Mel Kiper Jr. gives Cowboys a 'B'

May, 11, 2014
May 11
IRVING, Texas -- Grading drafts right after the conclusion of the selections is always tricky, but ESPN Insider Mel Kiper Jr. liked what the Dallas Cowboys did.

Kiper gave the Cowboys a "B."

To read all of the grades, here are Kiper’s marksInsider for every team, but you have to be an Insider to read it.

Here is what he wrote about the Cowboys:
Summary: Give Jerry Jones credit: I don't think it's unfair to at least be tempted by the prospect of Johnny Football with that blue star on his helmet, playing in that football theatre. But Manziel isn't making Dallas a better team in 2014, and Tony Romo -- for all the derision -- is a really good QB when he gets protection. The Dallas offensive line with Zack Martin isn't just the strength of the team, it's arguably among the top few units in the NFL. They are going to be able to run the ball. I had Martin as high as the top 10, so that's not a bad pick. I can see why Dallas added Demarcus Lawrence where it did, but a third is pricey in this draft. Devin Street addresses the depth the Cowboys really do need at WR, and they used the run of seventh-round picks to pile up some lottery tickets at need spots like safety, defensive tackle and cornerback, where Terrance Mitchell at times looked a lot better than your typical late-rounder. His 40 time didn't help, but he could stick. The Cowboys mixed in that typical moment of aggression, but in some ways they were as disciplined as any team in the draft, and they took some good shots to hit needs.

To me, it’s interesting that he is high on Mitchell. He’ll be a player to watch at the upcoming rookie weekend. He certainly has the size but he did not time well. He did, however, have five picks last season.
IRVING, Texas -- The speculation was strong most of the offseason.

If Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was available to the Cowboys with the 16th overall pick, Jerry Jones, the general manager, would select him.

The night before the draft, Mike Mayock of NFL Network, while admitting the Cowboys need help on defense, said Jones would pick Manziel in his final mock draft.

Then the day of the draft, ESPN’s Todd McShay said Manziel was the Cowboys top-ranked quarterback and he would go to them at No. 16 in his own final mock draft.

The speculation surrounding Manziel and the Cowboys prompted Jones to call his quarterback days before the draft and secure his status with the team.


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“Briefly, when we were talking about the draft a few days ago,” Jones said Friday night after the second day of the draft. “And as a matter of fact, I think there’d been some speculation. I think one of these guys came out with a mock draft or what have you. I just told Tony, ‘Just so you know, it looks like there’s going to be a few things written, some visibility with the media, but there’s really a real unlikely thing that you’d spend any time looking at.’ ’’

Of course, Manziel fell out of the top 10 and the Cowboys bypassed him, despite him being the highest ranked player on their board at the time.

Dallas drafted Notre Dame tackle Zack Martin instead and Manziel was selected by Cleveland at No. 22.

Jones said he has no regrets letting Manziel go and has reaffirmed his commitment to Romo, who signed a six-year $108 million contract extension with $55 million guaranteed two years ago, with his comments to reporters the last two days.

Coach Jason Garrett didn’t seem concerned about the Manziel talk. He didn’t have a chat with Romo about Manziel and noted you have to block out all the noise that surrounds it.

“Everybody’s working,” Garrett said. “Tony’s working just like the other guys are working. That’s really the mindset that we have. We want to be an overachieving group that plays hard, plays together and does all that stuff. There’s a lot of noise that exists in this world. My experience has been when you focus on what you’re supposed to do and do that as well you can do it typically good things happen. And Tony, I know has that mindset and our team does.”

Like '07, Cowboys affirm Romo love

May, 9, 2014
May 9
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys reaffirmed their love of QB Tony Romo on Thursday night when they passed on selecting Johnny Manziel in the 2014 NFL draft.

In 2007, they made a very similar move.

Back then, there were questions about Romo even after he took the NFL by storm and lifted the Cowboys to the playoffs in 2006.

Was he truly a franchise quarterback? Would a new coaching staff see him the same way the previous coaching staff saw him? Would there be any aftereffects from the bobbled snap in the playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks?

The Cowboys had searched forever, it seemed, for Troy Aikman’s successor. They tried Quincy Carter. They tried baseball players, such as Chad Hutchinson and Drew Henson. They tried veterans, such as Vinny Testaverde and Drew Bledsoe.

In 10 games, Romo threw for 2,903 yards with 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He went to the Pro Bowl.

He was also in the final year of his contract. Would the Cowboys make him a mega-offer with such a short track record?

Staring at the Cowboys as they were about make the 22nd pick in the '07 draft was Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn. Nobody expected him to be there. He was the Cowboys’ highest-rated quarterback. Forgetting what we know now, he had the stamp of approval from Charlie Weis, a coach who worked with Tom Brady. Quinn put up some strong numbers.

On the clock, the Cowboys traded out of the first round when they secured the Browns' second-round choice in 2007 and their first-rounder in 2008. Eventually they moved back into the first round in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles to take Anthony Spencer with the 26th pick.

The Cowboys affirmed their love for Romo. Seven games into the 2007 season, they signed him to a six-year, $67.5 million deal that included $30 million guaranteed.

About 14 months ago, the Cowboys reaffirmed their love for Romo with a six-year, $108 million extension that included $55 million.

Like in 2007, he faces some questions in 2014. Some are football-related. He has not led the Cowboys to the playoffs since 2009. He has a 25-28 record since the beginning of the 2010 season. There are a lot of questions about his health because he is coming off his second back surgery in less than a year. He turned 34 last month.

But just like seven years ago, Jerry Jones backed Romo once again.

“I think that Tony has everything to do with this decision,” Jones said of Dallas' selecting OT Zack Martin over Manziel. “We have a big commitment to Tony. We feel that anything we look at at quarterback would be down the road and in the future in the development of that quarterback. If you look at the difficult dynamic, giving up this player [Martin] that really enhances what we can do on offense and what Tony can do for the future, just on a pretty quick consideration [taking Manziel] didn’t make sense. That was the driving force behind it.”
Greg Ellis didn’t watch the first round of the NFL draft Thursday night, but as soon as he heard the Cowboys picked Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin over Johnny Manziel, one thought popped into his head.

“He’s going to go through the same thing I did when the Dallas Cowboys passed on Randy Moss and took me with the eighth pick," Ellis said. "It followed me throughout my career.

“Johnny is the more exciting player playing the more exciting position. Randy Moss was the more exciting player playing the more exciting position. The Cowboys drafted what they needed last night just like they did with me.

"If Tony Romo is still your guy and you feel like you can make a run with him, then you can’t spend your first pick on quarterback. Hopefully, both kids will turn out to be good football players like Randy Moss and Greg Ellis.”

Ellis started 155 of 162 games in 11 seasons with the Cowboys. Ellis, who played one season with Oakland, finished his career with 84 sacks, including a career-high 12 1/2 in 2007 after making the conversion from defensive end to outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense.

And if he hadn’t played on the left side his entire career, perhaps he would’ve had even more sacks. After all, he still holds North Carolina’s career sack record with 32. Ellis’ first priority with the Cowboys was to stop the run -- not rush the passer.

While Ellis had an excellent career, Moss had a Hall of Fame career. Moss caught 982 passes for 15,292 and 156 touchdowns. He terrorized the Cowboys, scoring 10 touchdowns in seven games against Dallas.

The comparisons never really stopped. And they won’t stop for Martin.

Whenever Manziel plays well, the chatter about how Dallas should’ve drafted him will begin. Whenever Martin allows a sack, folks will mention Manziel. If Romo plays poorly or gets hurt, Manziel's name will pop up even more.

“I just tried to focus on my job and do what I needed to do to help the team,” Ellis said. “I’d laugh it off whenever people talked about it. I’d say, 'I’ve scored an NFL touchdown, but has Randy Moss ever gotten a sack?’"

The key for Martin, said Ellis, will be to focus on being the best player he can be -- not worrying about Johnny Manziel.

“While Randy was making millions and scoring touchdowns, I was doing my best to help the Dallas Cowboys win,” Ellis said. “I put the team first, realizing that this is the job they’ve given me to do.

“They didn’t need me to go outside the framework of the defense. The highest compliment I ever received came from Mike Zimmer. He once said I could’ve had a million sacks, but I was unselfish and willing to do what was best for the football team. It wasn’t easy.

“If Johnny is having a Pro Bowl rookie season, Zack can’t think about punishing a guy and making a highlight film, if the play calls for him to zone block. He can’t worry about the reporters and media. He just needs to worry about himself."
IRVING, Texas -- If Jerry Jones wanted Johnny Manziel, who was wearing a blue blazer and sipping on a bottle of water as he patiently waited for some team to draft him Thursday night, he could’ve had the man known as Johnny Football.

And it would've been the dumbest move the Dallas Cowboys’ owner/general manager had made since letting Jimmy Johnson leave after consecutive Super Bowl wins following the 1993 season.


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Tony Romo's contract ties him to the Cowboys for at least three seasons, and the Cowboys have way too many holes to pick a quarterback who’s going to sit for several seasons.

So Jerry passed on Johnny Football with the No. 16 overall pick and selected the anti-Manziel -- Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin.

We can be pretty sure Martin isn’t a jet-setter with a penchant for sitting courtside and hanging with rappers such as Drake in his free time. Heck, Martin followed the draft Thursday night from his parents' bedroom in Indianapolis.

Sanity, it seems, has finally been restored to the Cowboys’ Valley Ranch training complex.

Raise a glass. Or a bottle.

The Cowboys have a new approach and it doesn’t matter whether we’re crediting Jerry Jones, coach Jason Garrett, vice president Stephen Jones or assistant director of player personnel Will McClay, who’s in charge of the draft for the first time.

Remember, the Cowboys released defensive end DeMarcus Ware, one of the best players in franchise history, when he declined a significant pay cut, and they let defensive tackle Jason Hatcher leave too because they didn’t want to pay age.

A couple years ago, Jerry would’ve found a way to keep both on the team.

Now, the Cowboys passed on one of college football’s most exciting players -- and a Texas native at that -- to pick an offensive lineman most folks hadn’t even heard of until a month or two ago.

[+] EnlargeJohnny Manziel
AP Photo/Frank Franklin IIJohnny Manziel fell to the Cleveland Browns with the No. 22 pick in Thursday's first round.
Yes, the Cowboys still need to improve the NFL's worst defense, but the draft doesn't end after the first round. The Cowboys will probably spend their picks in the second and third rounds on defense.

But taking Martin on Thursday was the right move. It was the best move. And it was really the only move move that made sense after Minnesota took linebacker Anthony Barr with the ninth pick, St. Louis chose defensive tackle Aaron Donald with the 13th pick and Pittsburgh selected linebacker Ryan Shazier with 15th pick.

That put the Cowboys on the clock. Social media went wild with speculation that the Cowboys would draft Manziel. Folks figured the merchandising and marketing opportunities involving Manziel and the Cowboys would be too much for Jerry to resist.

Guess not.

“There’s no way any quarterback comes in here and beats out Romo -- you know that,” Jones said. “Romo’s contract as well as our commitment to him means he’s certainly going to be the quarterback for the Cowboys for several years to come -- there’s no doubt about it. I don’t care who you draft.

“That was going through our minds from the get-go. That’s why we just didn’t spend a lot of time at all in this draft considering Manziel.”

Jones has always loved acquiring baubles, whether we’re talking about Deion Sanders, Terrell Owens, Rocket Ismail or Pacman Jones. But when the Cowboys didn’t get any trade offers worth taking to move down, they didn’t overthink the situation and selected Martin.

“This was such an obvious football decision,” Jerry said. “The idea of flair, flash and show business was never a consideration.”

Those of you who have been referring to Garrett as a puppet need to stop. You don’t have to like him as a coach, but don’t act like he doesn’t influence the owner.

In the first 22 years Jones owned the team, the Cowboys never took an offensive lineman in the first round.

Actually, the franchise hadn’t taken an offensive linemen in the first round since selecting Missouri’s Howard Richards in 1981. Martin is the third offensive lineman the Cowboys have taken in the first round in the past four years.

Tyron Smith (2011) is a Pro Bowl left tackle, and Travis Frederick (2013) started and played well at center last season.

Thursday's pick was a move with foresight, because Martin can play guard this season and move to right tackle next season. Right tackle Doug Free is entering the last year of his contract, and the Cowboys would've cut him last season if he hadn't taken a pay cut.

“We believe the games in the National Football League are won up front,” Garrett said. “Look at the best teams in the league now and for a lot of years and they control the line of scrimmage. We did that for years here and won championships in the '90s.”

The Cowboys have won one playoff game since winning Super Bowl XXX.

Picking Martin will help the Cowboys escape the abyss of mediocrity; selecting Johnny Football would’ve kept them in it.