Someone stop the presses, if this were a newspaper. A member of the Dallas Cowboys organization has told the truth. No, I’m serious.
After a week of Stephen Jones saying hilarious things, such as the club’s No. 1 need on defense being safety, a member of the organization has been injected with truth serum. None other than head coach Jason Garrett took the podium Friday in Indianapolis to address the assembled media. And this time, he didn’t begin with a 30-minute after-dinner speech that paid tribute to Tampa Bay’s 2004 offseason. Garrett dropped his Princeton guard, perhaps by complete accident, and provided some much-needed real talk. In one quote, he basically revealed why Tony Romo has the Cowboys organization completely over the barrel in this contract negotiation.
“He’s been a starter for six years and he has a lot of football in front of him,” Garrett said of Romo. “I think if you watch him play you see a guy who can move, a guy who the ball really jumps out of his hand — very spontaneous as a player, so you see no signs of him getting old as a player. We feel good about him for a long time to come, but the way we work around here is we focus on today, this year. We’re much more short-term thinking on what our attention is.”
Someone deliver a set of steak knives to ol’ Jason. He just pretty much summed up the Cowboys’ philosophy under Jerry Jones for the past 17 years. This is a “short-term” organization that has no use for the big picture. Why else would an organization only draft two quarterbacks over the course of 11 years? That’s something Quincy Carter and Stephen McGee will always be able to discuss at reunions.
The Cowboys hit the lottery when they signed Romo as an undrafted free agent out of Eastern Illinois in 2003. Unfortunately, they’ve spent the ensuing years celebrating that discovery instead of looking for his replacement. Other teams such as the Packers and Patriots kept drafting quarterbacks despite having quality starters. They knew that other teams might become enamored with those backups and trade valuable draft picks for them. It’s not like Matt Flynn had a chance to usurp Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, but he took advantage of his limited playing time and ended up landing a $10 million signing bonus with the Seattle Seahawks.
The 49ers had a quarterback named Alex Smith coming off an NFC title game last offseason. But that didn’t keep head coach Jim Harbaugh from having a look at Peyton Manning and then replacing Smith with second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick at midseason. Romo enjoys the type of security that even Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks haven’t been afforded.
And it comes from a philosophy that places too much value on potential. Unlike the Ravens, the Cowboys never seem to have a good feel for when to part ways with players. They signed former safety Roy Williams to a long-term extension despite the fact his career appeared to be in full retreat. Cornerback Terence Newman, now with the Bengals, was also rewarded with a lucrative contract extension at the age of 30. Jay Ratliff became the latest near-30-year-old to land a nice extension. He rewarded the Cowboys with a DWI arrest only a few weeks after a teammate had died in a drunken-driving incident.
But at least Garrett came right out and said it. This team’s all about the “short-term.” If there was any interest in building for the future, the Cowboys might be eyeing a quarterback in this draft. A longtime AFC scout told me Saturday that Tyler Wilson and E.J. Manuel are quarterbacks who are garnering a lot of attention as possible second or third-round picks. I don’t expect the Cowboys to even consider one of those players.
Based on where he comes from, Romo has had a successful NFL career. And since the Cowboys will continue to take such a short-term approach, he never has to worry about being challenged.
Jason thinks that’s living in the moment. I think it’s more like living in denial.