Dallas Cowboys

Stephen Jones taking the lead as Cowboys’ decision-maker on players

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones talk to the media during the Cowboys pre-draft news conference at Valley Ranch.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones talk to the media during the Cowboys pre-draft news conference at Valley Ranch. Star-Telegram

Owner Jerry Jones remains the best quote in the Dallas Cowboys’ organization.

But the man who once promised he would be involved in everything from socks to jocks finally acknowledged he is no longer the final decision-maker when it comes to players.

That was evident in 2014 NFL Draft when the Cowboys selected guard Zack Martin in the first round over former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, a Jones favorite.

Vice president Stephen Jones, along with coach Jason Garrett and chief scout Will McClay, overruled the elder Jones.

It’s a chain of command that remains in place as the Cowboys head into this year’s NFL Draft, which begins Thursday and runs through Saturday.

Stephen Jones, who is the man signing the checks for the Cowboys, is the captain now.

After initially going on a 6-minute, 11-second soliloquy about how things are being run today the same as they were when he bought the team in 1989, Jerry Jones later admitted that doing things a different way is best for the organization.

“It really is important to have maybe a different look or look at it this way as helping make the decision,” Jerry Jones said. “We look to each other and you did see last year that I basically listened, listened, listened and made a different decision than I might have made on my own.”

That’s where it has been for the past four years when a Cowboys owner that has preached years about the excitement of adding “wow” to the team or selecting a “wow” in the draft has watched his franchise take an offensive lineman in the first round in 2011 with tackle Tyron Smith, 2013 with center Travis Frederick and 2014 with Martin.

The only miss was in 2012 with cornerback Morris Claiborne, who might become one of the biggest busts in team history.

Jones said Martin, who made the All-Pro as a rookie, might be the team’s best draft pick ever.

Whether it’s with Garrett deciding how the players fit on the field or Stephen Jones making it all work financially, the Cowboys finally have the right structure in place to make sound decisions to build a successful team in the salary cap era.

While it’s easy to point out the three Super Bowl titles of the 1990s, those teams were constructed before the NFL put the cap in place in 1994.

“As we all know and have experienced, we didn’t get here understanding cap management,” Jerry Jones said. “My life before the Cowboys, I bought and then worried about how to pay for it. I would let my passion and enthusiasm help me bridge some of the gap between sound judgments to get there. The cap will cost you if you think like that a lot of times.

“This chemical engineer [Stephen Jones] I’ve got over here to my left has really evolved. The financial plan has to be right when it comes to acquiring personnel. Bottom line, Stephen has absolute, tremendous influence on these decisions that are ultimately made in this organization and everything we do.”

Clarence E. Hill Jr.


Twitter: @clarencehilljr

NFL Draft

Thursday-Saturday, Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, Chicago

Round 1: 7 p.m. Thursday. Rounds 2-3: 6 p.m. Friday. Rounds 4-7, 11 a.m. Saturday. TV: NFL Network, ESPN/ESPN2

The order

1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

2. Tennessee Titans

3. Jacksonville Jaguars

4. Oakland Raiders

5. Washington Redskins

6. New York Jets

7. Chicago Bears

8. Atlanta Falcons

9. New York Giants

10. St. Louis Rams

11. Minnesota Vikings

12. Cleveland Browns

13. New Orleans Saints

14. Miami Dolphins

15. San Francisco 49ers

16. Houston Texans

17. San Diego Chargers

18. Kansas City Chiefs

19. Cleveland Browns

20. Philadelphia Eagles

21. Cincinnati Bengals

22. Pittsburgh Steelers

23. Detroit Lions

24. Arizona Cardinals

25. Carolina Panthers

26. Baltimore Ravens

27. Dallas Cowboys

28. Denver Broncos

29. Indianapolis Colts

30. Green Bay Packers

31. New Orleans Saints

32. New England Patriots

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