OXNARD - Josh McCown grew up in Texas a Cowboys fan and when possible during his 14-year NFL career has worn No. 12 to honor his boyhood idol Roger Staubach.
He won’t get to wear No. 12 in Dallas … but the Cowboys still want him in their uniform via a trade that would bring the 37-year-old from the Browns to the Cowboys.
But wait. What did owner Jerry Jones say Thursday about his disinterest in such a deal? He made it sound as if the pursuit of McCown is not serious, he made it sound as if the pursuit of Nick Foles (who chose Kansas City over Dallas) wasn't serious, and he made it sound as if the Cowboys are maybe-kinda just fine where they're at on the QB depth chart.
"What you're seeing is that we really have what we think is an opportunity," Jones said. "We've seen enough and it makes sense. We don't have to be and shouldn't be as urgent as it might look like. We don't know that we are void on campus at the backup at all."
Don't believe it. He's playing Jerry Poppins here. And he (along with a "source'' stuffing baloney into the ears of ESPN reporters) are bluffing so poorly and with such unintentional transparency that I'm rather embarrassed for the Cowboys front office here.
The Cowboys this week lost Tony Romo’s backup Kellen Moore to a broken ankle. And as of Wednesday night clearly didn't view young QBs Dak Prescott and Jameill Showers as ready to take over just yet. ... thus their intense pursuit of Foles and then their trade talks with Cleveland regarding McCown at a cost of draft pick.
Their reasoning -- stated on the record by COO Stephen Jones?
*Dak and Jameill aren't quite ready.
*The vet No. 2 guy needs to get here sooner rather than later so we don't repeat the Matt Cassel error of bringing him in too late.
*Romo needs his pitch-count days off and we can't do that with only two other arms in camp.
That was all in stone at 11 p.m. Wednesday night.
At 11 a.m. Thursday, my buddy Ed Werder of ESPN tweeted: "Cowboys source says team no longer rushing to acquire vet QB. Can still give Tony Romo every 3rd day off. More reps to Prescott, Showers.''
Sure. No problems at all. Nothing to see here. Until it was time for the Cowboys to practice on Thursday afternoon, and with Romo taking his prescribed day off, the QB rotation was 1) Dak, 2) Jameill and 3) Jason Garrett, the 50-year-old former NFL journeyman who really, truly was involved in drills serving as a quarterback.
Yeah, I bet ol' RedBall's arm is hangin' today.
By the way, the answer to the question, "How'd Dak look and how'd Jameill look?'' is this: About the same as they looked 24 before, when Dallas needed a No. 2 QB who is better than them. Dak and Jameill didn't suddenly get better because they had a good night's sleep, you know? (What is Dak? All the good things you see in the above Pro Day video. Big and strong and mobile and smart ... and a project. Still.)
Said Prescott after the Thursday session, talking about himself and Showers: "It just gives us the opportunity, opportunity to prove ourselves. To go out there and show that we’re adjusting to this offense, we’re getting the concepts and we can play in this league.”
That would be awesome; the McCown talks drag on a bit and meanwhile, Prescott and Showers -- again, magically, overnight -- turn themselves into something they weren't two days ago.
When trade talk gets serious again, the Cowboys will have to pick up the remaining two years of McCown's salary, at $4.375 million for this year and $3.625 million for 2017, if/when they do this deal, but that's not the "price'' that concerns them. Cleveland has Dallas over a barrel and is asking too much in trade. That's why Jerry is trying to play possum here ... but it won't work. Cleveland's QB situation is just shaky enough (with McCown right behind RG3 and kids behind him) that it doesn't want to simply give away the player.
So Jerry makes this goofy pronouncements to the media and then, when nobody's looking, his silver-blue eyeballs stare a hole through his flip-phone waiting for an Ohio area code to pop up.
The Cowboys’ top option here was Foles, but he spurned the Dallas invite to instead sign with Kansas City, and Jerry is fibbing about this, too. Other fibs are in this mix, but these don't come from the Cowboys. Rather, ESPN's Josina Anderson seems to be in contact with Michael Vick and Josh Freeman and is using them (or their camps) as sources attaching their names to Dallas.
"We're not going to go down that road,'' a high-placed Cowboys exec tells me regarding Freeman and Vick, adding that no serious contact has ever been made by the Cowboys there.
At an even lower level are attempts to connect Dallas with Johnny Manziel. Earlier this week, he was literally 70 miles away from Oxnard, allegedly day-drinking at an LA bar. Just 70 miles away ... and yet a million miles away. I didn't even ask any "high-placed execs'' about this one; I'd be as embarrassed to ask about this as I am embarrassed for the Cowboys as they think that feigning disinterest in McCown is going to make Cleveland lower its price.
In McCown, Dallas would get a QB who was in contention to be the first-teamer this summer in Cleveland after having started eight games last year for the Browns, throwing for 2,100 yards, 12 TDs and just four interceptions … though Cleveland was its usual otherwise dreadful self, going 1-7 in those games.
As the trade talks started going public, McCown told Ohio media, "My heart is in Cleveland.''
But his new jersey (just not No. 12) can await him in Oxnard and then back home in Texas. ... when the Cowboys stop public posturing and start seriously negotiating.