Jones: Ellis likely done in Dallas

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones met with the media during Tuesday's morning session of the team's second Organized Team Activity (OTA) at Standridge Stadium in Carrollton, and acknowledged that longtime defensive end/linebacker Greg Ellis likely has probably played his last game in a Dallas uniform.

Jones said he and Ellis met Tuesday morning, and that they would "leave this thing like it is," referring to the team's decision to send Ellis home from last Thursday's OTA and attempt to find a new team for the former first-round draft pick out of North Carolina, who is heading into his 12th NFL season.

"We're not technically in a big hurry," Jones said. "He's looking at his options, and we're looking at ours, but more than likely, he'll be playing someplace else next year."

Jones said he had talked with Ellis' agent about options that include a possible trade, and stressed that he has great respect for the veteran pass rush specialist. He also said Ellis understands the business nature of the profession, and that the two maintain "a very good relationship."

Jones declined to identify the specific factors that led him to his decision, allowing only that the list included Ellis' age, the potential of third-year linebacker Anthony Spencer and the team's decision to draft several players at the outside linebacker spot in the 2009 draft, including top pick Jason Williams, as well as converted defensive ends Victor Butler and Brandon Williams. Jones said he liked "what we've got coming" in Spencer, and said the team "drafted into the position" before reiterating his affection for Ellis and his belief that Ellis has "a lot of football left in him."

Jones said the defense was hurt last season when Spencer got injured, but said his return to full health and the influx of young players could make the outside linebackers a stronger, deeper unit than before.

"That set us back last year, because (Spencer) was having a great camp," Jones said. "But he's back now, and certainly this was a deep draft (at the position), and those played (a part in the team's belief) that we could bolster the talent there."

Jones said nothing should be read into the fact that the team sent Ellis home Thursday, leaving five days before the owner and player could meet.

"That doesn't mean we weren't communicating," he said. "This was just the first chance we had" to get together.

Jones said that the way Ellis' contract is written, he is guaranteed to make at least $1.5 million in the 2009 season, whether it's with the Cowboys or another team. He said the contract is "offset" and that if another team acquires Ellis — via trade or by signing him, if Dallas waives him — and pays him at least that amount, the Cowboys "will be absolved of (the responsibility for paying) that $1.5 million."

When asked if he had made the decision to jettison Ellis in part to free up money for what is expected to be an enormous contract extension for star linebacker DeMarcus Ware, Jones referred to his son, Stephen Jones, the team's Chief Operating Officer, Executive Vice President and Director of Player Personnel who handles contract negotiations.

"We don't have anything (contractual) with (Ware)," Stephen Jones said, "so that's not it."

Stephen Jones acknowledged he would like to have an extension worked out with Ware, who is entering the final year of his contract, by training camp, but said the idea that the sides are nearing an agreement is merely speculation.

"We've had some conversations, but that's all," Stephen Jones said. "We'd like to have it done before camp, but we can't always do anything about that."

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