Cowboys Have Plenty of Options Defensively

Owner Jerry Jones said the Cowboys will carry the offseason-long question of whether they will switch from the 4-3 defense to the 3-4 defense into the NFL draft, set for April 23-24.<BR>

The Cowboys are currently involved in intensified draft meetings since early last week, where they are formulating strategy and breaking down players in an attempt to assemble their draft board.

Jones said every time they evaluate a defensive player the 4-3 or 3-4 question comes up in the process.

"We talk about it every day," Jones said. "We talk about the impact a player would have on either."

It's a topic of discussion because the decision to draft certain players would mean the Cowboys were making a final decision on a scheme.

If the Cowboys eventually finalize trade discussions with New Orleans for defensive end Darren Howard -- Jones said the deal is not dead -- it would mean they would stay in the 4-3.

Just like if they took Maryland linebacker Shawne Merriman -- a possibility with the 11th overall pick -- it would likely mean a shift to the 3-4.

Speaking of Trade
Linebacker Dat Nguyen acknowledged being worried when talk surfaced about him being traded to New Orleans for defensive end Darren Howard.

Though Nguyen was flattered that Saints owner and good friend Tom Benson wanted him, he never wanted to leave Dallas. Nguyen's feelings were eased when Cowboys coach Bill Parcells called to reassure him that trading him "was never a consideration."

Quincy Still Waiting
An arbitration hearing between the Cowboys and the NFL Players Association over the termination of former quarterback Quincy Carter has been postponed.

The NFLPA filed a grievance after the Cowboys released Carter in August, arguing that he was cut for violating the league's substance abuse policy, not poor performance, as the Cowboys contended. Under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, a player cannot be cut for a failed drug test. The Players Association also plans to use the hearing to determine whether the Cowboys were conducting their own drug tests, which is also prohibited by the CBA.

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