Tempted Cowboys avoid draft-day deals

IRVING, Texas -- As the final picks of the seventh round started to go off the board Saturday, Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones had a giant cigar in his mouth.

The man known for his draft-day wheeling and dealing since joining the NFL in 1989 could only watch the names go by because he was unable to trade the team's last selection, since it was a compensatory pick.

Maybe it was a victory cigar of some sort because for only the second time in Jones' tenure the Cowboys did not make any draft-day trades.

The last time Jones did not make a deal was in 2000, when the Cowboys selected five players, including three cornerbacks -- starting with Dwayne Goodrich in the second round. From 1989 to 2010, Jones made 57 draft-day trades. He has made as many as six in a draft (2008) and as few as one (2005, 2003, 1999, 1998 and 1989) over the years.

Things came close to being a "normal" draft -- for Cowboys standards -- on Thursday night. Jones' trader nature almost reappeared. Tyron Smith was the reason it did not.

The Cowboys nearly agreed to deal the No. 9 pick to Jacksonville for the Jaguars' first- and second-round picks, according to sources. Had the Cowboys made that deal, they would have been in position to make the pick at No. 16 and possibly move back into the end of the first round to take Mark Ingram, Cameron Jordan, Muhammad Wilkerson or Danny Watkins with those second-round selections.

"Those picks beget more trades," Jones said.

Without more picks, the Cowboys did not have the necessary ammunition to move back into the first round, and they were unwilling to overpay to do so.

Eventually, the Jaguars made the same deal with the Washington Redskins a pick later.

Said Jones: "We just couldn't live with failure there as to our plan. ... Me personally, I'm very pleased that we used that pick and did not make the trade and that we have Tyron Smith."

That wasn't the only trade that came close to fruition during the three-day draft.

Jerry and Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones said they came close to making "several" trades over the last three days but ultimately did not believe it was worth it. Stephen Jones said the phones rang just as much during this year when compared to others despite the uncertain labor situation.

"I think we really recognized the preparation," Jerry Jones said. "We followed the board."

Jones said he felt as comfortable regarding selecting players because of the process that was created by Stephen Jones, head coach Jason Garrett and director of college and pro scouting Tom Ciskowski.

On Saturday, the Cowboys added five players to the mix: Missouri State guard David Arkin (fourth round), Buffalo cornerback Josh Thomas from Cedar Hill (fifth round), East Carolina wide receiver Dwayne Harris (sixth round), Georgia fullback Shaun Chapas (seventh round) and Wisconsin guard Bill Nagy (seventh round).

They were added to the previous selections of Smith, linebacker Bruce Carter and running back DeMarco Murray.

"We had a good day," Jerry Jones said.

That will ultimately be determined by how those players perform on the field over the next few years, but the owner is not wishfully thinking what might have happened if he had made a trade.

As Stephen Jones walked back to the scouting offices Saturday night, he was asked if anything surprised him about the draft.

"If you had told me before the draft that we weren't going to make a trade," he said, "I would've bet you on that."

Todd Archer covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.