IRVING, Texas – If Jerry Jones were a fisherman, he would love telling stories about the one that got away.
"I really have added it up, and you all don't need philosophy here but ... when I look back on my life I've overpaid for my big successes every time, and when I've tried to get a bargain or get a little cheaper or get a better deal on it, I ended up usually either getting it and not happy I got it or missing [it]," Jones said.
"I probably should have overpaid here."
And shouldn’t that make second-round pick Jaylon Smith and third-round pick Maliek Collins happy. Jones was willing to give up the Cowboys’ selections in those two rounds to take Lynch, whom the Cowboys hoped wouldn’t see the field for at least two seasons with Tony Romo as the starter.
Smith won’t see the field in 2016 either as he recovers from a serious knee injury. Collins could be a starter early in the season if the club decides to move Tyrone Crawford to defensive end during the absences of Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence.
By taking Ezekiel Elliott in the first round, the Cowboys showed they want to get back to the formula that worked so well in 2014. By wistfully wondering about Lynch, Jones is harkening back to another 2014 moment.
He could not get over the fact the Cowboys passed on Johnny Manziel with the 16th pick in the draft. The talk got so ridiculous that a picture of Stephen Jones literally diving across the draft table to intercept the draft card was painted. Two problems: The Cowboys don’t actually write draft cards at Valley Ranch, and the omnipresent draft-room camera never caught this scene.
In the days, weeks and months that followed Jones sounded disappointed in not landing Manziel. He loved everything about Manziel. The brashness. The Heisman Trophy. The marketing opportunities.
Manziel busted with the Cleveland Browns and, from the outside, his life appears to be spiraling out of control. Last week Manziel was indicted by a Dallas grand jury on a misdemeanor charge stemming from a domestic violence complaint by his ex-girlfriend.
Meanwhile the player the Cowboys drafted 16th overall in the first round, guard Zack Martin, has played in the Pro Bowl his first two seasons and generally is considered one of the best at his position in the NFL.
But many believe the Cowboys will take a chance on Manziel at some point. Jones’ affinity for Manziel is that strong even if the quarterback’s on-field performance was, to be kind, spotty.
Multiple times Jones has been asked about Manziel this offseason, including over the weekend.
“I don’t have any sense of how I feel right now other than I just really like him and know him and like him,” Jones said. “I really appreciate all the positive things he’s done while at A&M, what he did as a Heisman Trophy winner and what he is about [in] football. We have that in common. Consequently it really makes me dwell on him getting things in better shape for him so he can do not just football but anything. That’s because I have an appreciation for what he did do. You can’t take that away from him. He really did something special for A&M, football and for all of us. We’ll worry about the future later.”
The Denver Broncos landed Lynch in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks. He could be their starter this year if he proves better than Mark Sanchez. The Cowboys thought Lynch needed the most time of the top quarterbacks to develop before getting on the field.
With Lynch, they felt he would have been worth the time.
But now he’s a member of the Broncos the way Manziel was a member of the Browns.
Jones needs to let it go.