NFC East: johnny manziel

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.

Gordon
Gordon
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.

Manziel
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?
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."

Cowboys offseason wrap-up

May, 22, 2014
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» 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.
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.

Romo
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.
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.”
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]."
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.

Romo
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.”
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.

Romo
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.”

Eagles stuck to board, avoided temptations

May, 9, 2014
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PHILADELPHIA – Time will tell whether the Philadelphia Eagles made the right choice in selecting Louisville linebacker Marcus Smith with the No. 26 overall pick in the NFL draft.

It’s also natural to wonder if they passed on other quality players.

Manziel
Lee
The Eagles originally held the No. 22 overall pick, but traded down with the Cleveland Browns.

And the Browns took Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.

Was Manziel a consideration for the Eagles?

“We're always going to go by our board,” Eagles coach Chip Kelly said. “I love him, I think he's a dynamic quarterback. I think we have a very, very good quarterback situation, not only with Nick (Foles), but you add Mark Sanchez in, Matt Barkley, we think quarterback is a strength for us right now. We felt like the pass-rusher who we had rated higher was the guy we were going to take.”

The Eagles have a major need at wide receiver since they recently released three-time Pro Bowler DeSean Jackson and Jason Avant. Deciding to pass on USC wide receiver Marqise Lee had to be difficult.

“Yeah, I think Marqise is an outstanding player,” Kelly said. “I wouldn't be surprised if by the time I get back upstairs he's not there. But I think we spend so much time on ordering it, so that when you get into the situation like 'where do we go,' it's a simple thing. We've had them all rated for a long time, and our board is our board. When you get in there you don't turn around and go 'oh, I kind of like him.' Well, we've had since last year to stack the board the right way.

“If we liked him, that should have been a discussion a while ago. So we were going to follow up. That's what you do rationally. You can't let emotion get into it. I think Marqise is a special kid. I tried to recruit him coming out of high school, and [he] had a tremendous career at USC. But for us, we think Marcus was the right pick.”
IRVING, Texas -- Forget everything you think you know about Jerry Jones.

When faced with the chance to take Johnny Manziel and all that the Texas A&M quarterback would have brought to the Dallas Cowboys, Jones opted for offensive lineman Zack Martin.

And to hear Jones tell it, it was not a hard decision. Till death do him part, Jones is married to Tony Romo.

[+] EnlargeJohnny Manziel
AP Photo/Jason DeCrowJohnny Manziel would have brought a bright spotlight to Dallas, but the Cowboys opted for an offensive lineman instead.
Jones said he was surprised Manziel was still available when the Cowboys picked at No. 16. He was more surprised that having Manziel available did not bring about a "bonanza" of offers to make a trade.

"Romo, by contract as well as by commitment, is going to be certainly the quarterback for several years to come," Jones said. "Don’t care who we drafted, that's the way it was going to be. So that's what was going through our minds. That's why we didn't spend a lot of time considering Manziel."

It might be surprising to many. Jones has long been known for wanting a buzz around his team. Manziel would have offered more buzz than any player the Cowboys could have drafted. The marriage of Jones, the NFL's king of marketing, and Manziel, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from Texas A&M, would have kept the Cowboys in the news from May through whenever Manziel took over for Romo.

"John Madden once told me when I was telling him about this idea of personalities and being involved with the Dallas Cowboys," Jones said. "He said, 'Jerry, the Cowboys have all the flash, have all the visibility that you could ever conjure up. Make your decisions, get the best players and coaches that win the games. You got all the rest you'd want. You don't need to have big-time flash to be involved in the NFL and be successful in the league.' I've always remembered that. No, frankly that [picking Manziel] wasn’t even a thought. This was such an obvious football … decision."

Jones might not have always remembered Madden's words during his time as the Cowboys' owner, but they came to his mind on Thursday when nobody really thought they would.

In 1998, Jones passed on Randy Moss and took Greg Ellis instead. Moss tormented the Cowboys for years. Every time the Cowboys played the Minnesota Vikings, Ellis had to answer questions about Moss.

Coach Jason Garrett, who gets to avoid the circus that would have followed had Manziel become a Cowboy, described Martin as the right kind of guy. Martin was a four-year starter at Notre Dame. He was a two-year captain. He epitomizes Garrett’s "right kind of guy" ethos.

"He's everything you want," Garrett said. "Someone referenced him as one of the safest picks in the draft. And that's a compliment, but we don’t see him as safe. We see him as a damn good football player."

Manziel wasn't safe. He would have come with risk. Good and bad. Maybe he develops into a franchise quarterback, using the disappointment of slipping so far in the first round as fire the way Moss did when he fell to the Vikings.

Sixteen years after Ellis had to do it with Moss, Martin now steps into that shadow of being the guy the Cowboys took instead of Manziel.

"That's fine by me," Martin said. "I can live up to that."
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IRVING, Texas -- The pick: Zack Martin, offensive line, Notre Dame.

My take: Jerry Jones passed up style for substance by taking Martin over quarterback Johnny Manziel, which might say how the Cowboys are being run these days.

Martin is the third offensive lineman the Cowboys have drafted in the first round in three of the past four years after Jones did not pick an offensive lineman with their top pick from 1989-2010. Martin joins Tyron Smith (2011) and Travis Frederick (2013) as the first-round picks taken the past four seasons.

Martin can come in and play guard, either right or left, as a rookie in 2014 and move to tackle in 2015 depending on Doug Free's status. Free is set to become a free agent after the season. It is also possible Free could move to guard.

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The move bolsters the Cowboys' line for quarterback Tony Romo, who is coming off two back surgeries in less than a year, and it also helps for whenever the Cowboys move on to Romo's successor in the future.

Martin was a four-year starter at Notre Dame at left and right tackle.

Saying no to Johnny: In what had to be a difficult decision for Jones, as the Cowboys said no to Manziel. Will it come back to haunt them the way passing on Randy Moss did in 1998?

Moss tormented the Cowboys in his years with the Minnesota Vikings. Manziel could have that opportunity now.

As much as Manziel would have been a marketing dream for Jones, it would have forced him to choose between Manziel and Romo at quarterback. The Cowboys gave Romo a six-year, $108 million extension last year with $55 million guaranteed. From a salary-cap standpoint, the Cowboys would be hard-pressed to get out of Romo's contract comfortably until 2016, though it would not be impossible to do in 2015.

Now, however, it's a decision Jones does not have to make.

What's next: The Cowboys hold the 47th and 78th picks in the second and third rounds on Friday. After going with Martin in the first round, look for them to target defense. The Cowboys had the worst-ranked defense in 2013.
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel told Pro Football Talk Live on Thursday that it would be cool to play for the Dallas Cowboys.

There are several mock drafts, ESPN's Todd McShay's and NFL Network's Mike Mayock, that have the Cowboys selecting Manziel in the first round.

Manziel
The Cowboys, with the No. 16 overall pick, have needs along the defense and general manager Jerry Jones said this week that he doesn't want to draft a quarterback to sit behind Tony Romo for one or two seasons.

Still, the possibility of drafting Manziel has raised speculation about the Cowboys' thought process.

"I mean anything is possible," Manziel said on Pro Football Talk Live. "I think all 32 teams are in play, you never know. Some of these teams, they’ve done way wackier things than that. For me it would really, really cool to go there, but not something I have stuck in my head. Jerry Jones has been extremely nice to me. He’s treated me very, very well and we’ve developed a little bit of a friendship over the past year and a half, just going to games or whatever it be."

Manziel has attended sporting events at AT&T Stadium, where he's met Jones. Manziel has also hung out with Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant recently, so there is a mutual respect from members in the organization, whether's its somebody in the front office to one of the players.

But it doesn't guarantee the Cowboys will draft Manziel.

"I went to A&M, redshirted, and sat behind [Ryan] Tannehill and learned a lot," Manziel said. "There’s guys that [have] been in the league and know a lot more than I know going in. If I need to sit and learn from them for a year or whatever the case may be, then I’m openly willing to do that if that’s what’s best for the team. That’s all I care about."

IRVING, Texas -- Well isn’t all this Johnny Manziel stuff just so much fun?

ESPN Insider Todd McShay has Manziel coming Insider to the Dallas Cowboys with the 16th pick in the first round. So does Mike Mayock in his mock draft.

What kind of reaction would that have? Talk about a ratings bonanza. Talk about a ton of interest in a team that already has a ton of interest despite one playoff win in nearly two decades. Talk about an interesting quarterback room with Manziel and Tony Romo. Talk about how this would do nothing for a head coach needing to win in 2014 to make sure he’s coaching the team in 2015.

I’ll take you back to Jerry Jones’ comments after the Cowboys' 37-36 loss to the Green Bay Packers last December: Aren't you entertained?

If that's the reasoning people are using to connect Johnny Football to the Cowboys, then this franchise is doomed. If it's because Manziel is a future franchise quarterback, then fine.

In Tuesday’s pre-draft news conference Jones said, “I will go as far as to say it is not our primary goal in the first round to be looking at a quarterback. We've got a good one."

I guess we can parse the "primary goal" part. I guess we can just believe Jones was smokescreening us all. But why can’t we believe all this Manziel stuff now is just smokescreening? If Manziel does fall to No. 16, don't you think the Cowboys would love to drive up the price for a team that would be willing to trade up to that spot to get him?

Heck yeah.

On some levels it makes sense to draft Manziel, if the Cowboys are convinced he is a franchise quarterback. Romo is 34 and coming off his second back surgery. If you're going to find a replacement for Romo, then doing it in the early rounds makes the most sense. Since 2006, there have been 59 quarterbacks drafted in Rounds 3-7 and two have become starting quarterbacks: Russell Wilson and Nick Foles.

But let's look at the salary cap as a reason for why selecting Manziel wouldn't make sense.

If the Cowboys wanted to cut Romo after this season, it would cost them $9.635 million in cap space with his cap figure ballooning to $37.4 million. Romo is already guaranteed $7.5 million of his 2015 base salary. Another $7.5 million is guaranteed the third day of the 2015 league year.

With how fiscally responsible the Cowboys were this offseason when it came to free agency, would they wipe out a huge chunk of cap space? If they used a June 1, 2015 cut on Romo, then it would save $17 million against the cap, but then Romo would be on the books in 2016 for $21.635 million. Again not prudent.

If the Cowboys want to cut Romo after the 2015 season, then they would take a hit of $1.5 million, provided they let him play that season with a preposterously high $27.773 million cap figure. It is a virtual lock the Cowboys will restructure Romo's contract again in 2015, which would increase the proration amounts in 2016-19. Again not prudent.

So the most financially beneficial way to part ways with Romo is after the 2016 season. By that time Manziel would be going into the final year of his contract and the Cowboys would have to make a decision on whether to pick up his fifth-year option without having seen him play if Romo operates at a high level and does not get injured again.

Bottom line, I just don't see Manziel to the Cowboys happening. It would be great for a lot of people, including the media. It would make Valley Ranch -- or whatever we're going to call their new home in Frisco -- an even more interesting place.

Thankfully, the draft starts here soon.

It can't get here fast enough.

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