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Thursday, April 3, 2014
Jerry Jones isn't taking a step back

By Calvin Watkins

There was a notable absence during the recruitment of Henry Melton a few weeks ago at Valley Ranch.

Jason Garrett and Rod Marinelli were around for dinner and a tour of the Valley Ranch facility. Stephen Jones was around too.

But no Jerry Jones.

It led to speculation that the owner was taking a lesser role during the free agency period.

Jones had a previous engagement and couldn't attend the dinner or the tour with Melton.

And to say Jones is taking a step back with his franchise trying to overcome three consecutive seasons of 8-8 isn't happening.

With the Dallas Cowboys in a salary cap crunch, it forced the front office to get creative in signing Melton to an incentive laden deal.

Despite the financial restraints, it didn't deter Jones from trying to fix what ails his franchise.

"In my life, in my career, I've had many times when I could be more aggressive because of the financial shape that I was in and times I had to be pretty conservative because of the financial shape I was in," he said. "That's the art of the deal is to make the adjustments. Now, you would say wouldn't it be better to get ahead of it and not have to make adjustments. The one who can look in that crystal ball, I want to meet, whether it be managing our salary cap or just business in general."

The Cowboys made smart decisions in free agency. They signed three defensive linemen, two potential starters in Jeremy Mincey and Melton. Terrell McClain will also compete for a starting job.

Upgrades to the defensive line were a necessity after the team released DeMarcus Ware and for refusing to re-sign Jason Hatcher in free agency.

Quarterback Brandon Weeden was also picked up by the Cowboys and despite his age, 30, he's got only two years of NFL experience and the team hopes he can merge into a backup to Tony Romo in future years.

The Cowboys had interest in several players in free agency, but the money, team-oriented deals, and age, players 30 and under and fit to scheme were the guidelines the front office was under.

Jones understood this more than anyone and while he wasn't involved with the Melton signing he had a hand in the coaching moves.

He didn't tell coach Jason Garrett whom to let go, but made the decision not to give him a contract extension.

Jones believes coaches and players play for their jobs on a regular basis anyway, regardless of their contract status, so in his view, what does an extended contract really mean?

"We're loading up to the extent we can but doing what we can do physically and not doing what we can't do physically," Jones said. "We're also doing a good job for our future, the future being the next two, three, four years out. But our cap is requiring us to do the things that are good for our future."