According to sources, the Cowboys had discussions with the Baltimore Ravens about dropping back from the No. 4 pick to No. 6 and had talks with a number of teams later in the first round, notably the Seattle Seahawks at No. 26, in order to select Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch.
At No. 4, the Cowboys held firm and selected Elliott. But they were thwarted in their attempt to get back into the first round by the Denver Broncos, who traded up with Seattle and took Lynch.
The Cowboys believed if they dropped back to No. 6 that the Ravens would have selected Elliott and left open the possibility of not landing Elliott or Jalen Ramsey, their top-rated defensive back.
But the real intrigue came in their talks with the Seahawks. The Cowboys wanted Lynch, with whom they had a private workout in Orlando, Florida, and had him in for a pre-draft visit at Valley Ranch.
The move shows the Cowboys' clear interest in finding a quarterback in this draft, and Lynch would have been Tony Romo's heir apparent. He would have been the Cowboys' first first-round pick at quarterback since Troy Aikman in 1989.
The Cowboys have expressed confidence that Romo, who turned 36 last week, will be their starter for the next 3-5 years. By adding Lynch, the Cowboys could have had him under contract through 2020 with the fifth-year option available to first-round draft picks.
A source close to Lynch told ESPN's Ed Werder that the Cowboys spent more time with him and on him leading up to the draft than any other team.
Instead, the Seahawks made a deal with the Broncos, with the teams swapping first-round picks and Seattle picking up a third-round pick (No. 94). Jerry Jones indicated the Cowboys offered their second- and third-round picks and were willing to offer more to sweeten the pot but did not hear back from Seattle.
In addition to the 34th overall pick, the Cowboys hold the 67th pick (third) and the 101st (fourth) picks. They also hold the 135th pick, but they cannot trade compensatory selections.
As the Cowboys look to the next two days of the draft, a quarterback could figure prominently even if they need to help the defense.
"We felt really good about this particular player, and it didn't work out," executive vice president Stephen Jones said. "Of course after that happens we'll re-evaluate and look at where our situation is with the remaining quarterbacks. I wouldn't say we're out, but I wouldn't say we're all in either. It's something we'll evaluate as we go if the right quarterback is hanging in there again."