On Tuesday, owner Jerry Jones returned to the site where Dak Prescott first caught the Dallas Cowboys’ attention.
That, more than anything, brought a smile to his face even though the disappointment of an early postseason exit still lingers. Jones wished he would’ve been multitasking by getting ready for a trip to the Super Bowl and evaluating college talent at the Senior Bowl, instead of only doing the latter.
“We would’ve been here no matter if we were getting ready to play in the Super Bowl, but we would’ve been here with thoughts and visions of sugarplums coming up here in the next couple weeks,” Jones said. “So it’s a little bit of a downer, but we’re buoyed by the success of the team, the success of the young players we had.
“Certainly, the thought that Dak Prescott was out here last year and was not on our mindset in what he contributed.”
Prescott proved to be a gem taken in the fourth round of last year’s draft. He led the Cowboys on an 11-game winning streak and to the NFC’s top-seed as veteran quarterback Tony Romo dealt with yet another injury setback.
But Prescott fell short in his dreams of being the first rookie quarterback to lead a team to the Super Bowl, as the Green Bay Packers ruined the Cowboys’ season in the divisional round 34-31 with a field goal as time expired.
Jones met with the team the day after the season-ending loss with an uplifting message for the 2017 season.
“I don’t want to get into exactly what we talked about, but it was a little bit of some experiences that I had personally and that this was certainly on par this year – on par with some of the neatest experiences I’ve ever had,” Jones said. “But it just reinforces that anything is possible if you think big enough. I was standing in a room full of big thinkers on our team.
“This will be with us, not only the pain of the last game with Green Bay, but also the excitement, the good things that we had happened to us. So I think it’s very productive to carry it with you, your experiences.”
The biggest off-season story for the Cowboys is Romo’s future. It’s unlikely the Cowboys will want to pay him a $14 million base salary to be the team’s backup again, and Romo cited a desire to compete in his mid-season concession speech.
Whether Romo is traded or released, signs point to his tenure with the Cowboys coming to an end. Jones, though, refused to speculate on that this early on in the off-season and wouldn’t comment on any conversations he might have had with Romo up to this point.
“I’m not going to get into that at all – whether we’ve talked or not,” Jones said. “We’re at a juncture now that, we need to just cool it in our public conversations about what we’re going to be doing or not doing there with Tony.”
Jones touched on a variety of other subjects in his 15-minute meeting with the media:
On his Hall of Fame chances: “Frankly, with our minds on what might have been, that’s where most of my attention has been. Again, I have said this in the past and I can say it even more so this year with a year like we’ve had this year and then to have consideration for that pat on the back, or that accolade, hardly seems fair with the great experiences that I’ve had being in the NFL. And this past year certainly was one of them.”
On the Cowboys’ biggest need this off-season: “Where we’re going to be picking, I think that we can improve our team in several areas on each side of the ball – but particularly on the defensive side of the ball. … I think it’s fair to say that we’ll be looking defensively. But, as we know, that’s not necessarily what shows up. Our team would benefit from good players anywhere.”
On if he expects NFL to conclude the Ezekiel Elliott investigation before next season: “I don’t want to get ahead because that’s obviously somebody other than me, but I’m well aware of all of the circumstances involved there and have felt good about it since training camp and have seen nothing that in any way would make me think any differently than we felt shortly after it became a point.”