IRVING, TX - Cowboys owner Jerry Jones admitted there were opportunities for a trade during the first round on Thursday night, but he never pulled the trigger. Instead, the team stayed on track in rebuilding the team’s offensive line.
"By definition, you could count some offers that we had there as firm offers," Jones said. "But you had no acceptance and you had no meeting of the mind. We obviously didn't take or we would have made the trade.”
Jones wouldn't say what the deal was or which team he was negotiating with.
The Cowboys passed on Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, who slid to the 22nd spot in the first round.
There were plenty of critics who thought that Jones would not be able to pass up a flashy quarterback like Manziel at the 16th pick if he became available. Manziel was available but the Cowboys passed.
"I think Tony (Romo) has everything to do with this decision," Jones said. "We feel that anything we took at quarterback would be down the road and in the future in the development of that quarterback. If you look at the dynamic, giving up this player that really enhances what we can do on offense and what we can do for the future, on a quick consideration, just didn't make sense. That was the driving force behind it. Frankly, it was not even a thought."
Instead, the Cowboys picked an offensive lineman for the second year in a row. The target was Zack Martin from Notre Dame, a player who had the longest tenure as a starter in Irish history.
"We didn't have to spend any time what Martin was or debating what Martin was," Jones said. "We looked at draft strategy and what was in the best interest of the team. It’s no secret we'd like to have some defense in this draft, you can have an outstanding draft and have an outstanding offensive player in it if in fact the right one drops down there at the right price and helps us out a lot."
"Martin was a guy we really liked," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. "If we're going to sit in there and pick, he was certainly one of the guys we were ecstatic to be able to choose for our football team.”
Garrett said Martin's ability to play different positions was very appealing. He's expected to play guard his first year although Garrett said he can play across the board on the offensive line.
"We don't want to declare right or left side right now," Garrett said. "He played principally on the left side in college but again he has shown position flex. He's a smart football player. He's an instinctive football player. He's played a lot of snaps at a high level so we feel like he's a guy who mentally could handle it, athletically he could handle it.”
"At the end of the day, we're going to mix him into the competition that we have up front and we're going to be a better offensive line," Garrett said. "Someone made a reference that he's one of the safest picks in the draft. That's certainly a compliment, but we don't see him as a safe player. We see him as a damn good football player."