Thursday, March 11, 2004
Updated: March 12, 1:36 PM ET
Free agency gone according to plan for Cowboys
IRVING, Texas -- It's not like Jerry Jones to sit quietly
while others are making headlines, especially when the newsmakers
are division rivals.
Yet Jones said Thursday the slow, steady pace the Dallas Cowboys
have taken in free agency is exactly what they wanted.
"The plan was for it to come to us," Jones said after
announcing his first big move, the signing of defensive end
Marcellus Wiley to a $16 million, four-year deal that includes a
$4.5 million bonus. "We kind of felt there were some real high
numbers out there that didn't make sense to us."
Several players the Cowboys pursued signed elsewhere. Others
they were interested in -- from cornerbacks to punters -- also found
Then there's the pending deal for receiver Keyshawn Johnson. A
$20 million, four-year contract is ready to be signed once Tampa
Bay either trades him to Dallas or cuts him. Something is expected
by April 1 because he's owed a $1 million bonus that day.
"We want him here," Jones said, "and he wants to be here."
The Cowboys are willing to give up receiver Joey Galloway, but
he's not interested in Tampa Bay's offer of $1 million for one
year. His agent, Leigh Steinberg, said talks were "mildly
resurrected" by Buccaneers general manager Bruce Allen on
Jones said he's also looking at quarterbacks, but only as
backups to Quincy Carter.
"We're not out of business at quarterback, but that's not to be
read into as Quincy being out of business," Jones said. "He's
still the starter."
Jones said he doesn't regret not pursuing quarterbacks Mark
Brunell or Jeff Garcia, and he's not interested in Tim Couch, who
is likely to be cut or traded now that the Cleveland Browns have
Drew Henson, meanwhile, still intrigues the Cowboys. Jones said
the holdup is "a lot of moving parts," such as Henson's contract
demands, what Houston wants for his rights and the chance he goes
back into the draft.
Jones said help is on the way at running back and offensive
line, although the additions may come through the draft and they
might not be headliners.
"We will add someone at running back," he said. "Now the
level that we do it at, that's the horse of a different color."
Cornerback is another position Dallas is studying. Bobby Taylor
and Troy Vincent remain possibilities, with Taylor having said he's
interested in the Cowboys.
Asked about the big bucks spent by Washington owner Daniel
Snyder, Jones smiled wide and said, "I've been watching them do it
for the last several years."