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Newman is Cowboys' consolation prize

SAN ANTONIO -- Surrounded by reporters on a Sunday afternoon, Terence Newman spoke about the past couple of days in his life.

Wild is one way to describe what happened.

It seemed Newman, the veteran Cowboys cornerback, was about to get traded or released.

Jerry Jones, the man who signs the checks around here, was putting forth a competitive financial offer for free-agent defensive back Nnamdi Asomugha.

During Friday's afternoon practice, Rob Ryan was on the phone with Asomugha -- though he claims it was someone else -- making his sales pitch for him to sign with the Cowboys.

There was a fist bump between Jerry Jones and his son, Stephen, after the flurry of phone calls. We were told later the father and son were excited about a non-football business deal that went successful instead of an Asomugha signing.

Ryan said Asomugha was the best player he ever coached. Yet, Ryan also said Newman is a talented player. It would have been hard to believe the Cowboys would have kept Newman and Asomugha on the same roster.

Both players have the same agent, Ben Dogra, and both players are in their 30s. Asomugha, however, is considered one of the best corners in the game.

In a poll of NFL players to rank the Top 100 players in the game presented by NFL Network, Asomugha came in 18th. Newman didn't make the list.

Somehow a deal to get Asomugha came down to three teams: the Cowboys, New York Jets and the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Cowboys' offer of four years for $40 million was smaller than the Eagles' five-year, $60 million contract, which Asomugha took.

Ryan said he was honest with Newman about what was transpiring. Head coach Jason Garrett also said the team spoke with Newman about upgrading the roster.

Newman said his feelings weren't hurt. Really?

"As far as what?" he said. "Having 60 new defenses come in four days? My feelings are hurt about that. My head is spinning. But, I mean, it's a business, you know. Say Nnamdi did come. Does that necessarily mean I'd be gone? It doesn't. So right now the questions about the whole situation are speculation."

True, but it's also hard to believe the Cowboys would have moved Newman to one of the safety spots. He's not big enough for strong safety. Maybe free safety because he could become a quarterback on defense. Newman talked about his mentor, Denver's Champ Bailey, possibly moving to safety in the late stages of his career a few years ago. So it is something he's thought about.

The flip side is this is Ryan's favorite player. So why keep Newman around if you get an elite corner and you can still obtain a natural safety in free agency?

It was hard to watch things unfold this weekend regarding Newman, who maintained his professionalism by not spouting off in the media or causing a problem internally.

Last year was hard enough on Newman, who played with bruised ribs that made it hard for him to tackle and turn with receivers in coverages. You looked at him playing sometimes last year and said he shouldn't be out there.

"I don't make excuses for anything," he said. "If you go out and play and if you're well enough to play then you should compete. I took injections to play, but I was out there. That was not an excuse for me. I'm not going to make an excuse and say I was hurt."

Newman is a better player than he showed last season. He turns 33 on Sept. 4, and he'll be one of the five oldest corners in the league. He's coming into 2011 after tying for the team lead with five interceptions and finishing second with 14 pass breakups.

Newman wants to get better and he called Ryan "Houdini with hella swag" in terms of his scheme. He's going to blitz more, as evidenced in Sunday's practice when he went flying off the edge and knocked down a Tony Romo pass attempt.

At least for today, Newman is staying with the Cowboys while Asomugha is playing for Philadelphia.

"You can talk about OK, well if this happens, then so-and-so is gone or whatnot," Newman said. "But that never came from the owner or any of my coaches. To me, that's just speculation. It doesn't matter. I'm here, he's in Philly."

Calvin Watkins covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.