INDIANAPOLIS -- A day after members of the Dallas Cowboys front office acknowledged they planned to interview Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, owner Jerry Jones said he wouldn't dismiss the controversial Heisman Trophy winner as an option for the ninth overall pick in the NFL Draft.
The owner said the team is in "outstanding shape" at the position with Tony Romo at quarterback, but he said the interest in Newton is more than just doing their due diligence.
"I wouldn't dismiss any player that's going to be in that draft ...," Jones said. "So much happens with the circumstances that are there, not only on draft day but how we continue our process. But I do feel like we're in really top shape.... I'm going to really say outstanding shape at the position. Obviously, a quarterback to draft right now is a future consideration. For that reason, I wouldn't dismiss him or any position."
Of course, Jones' words could be a smoke screen in hopes another team would take Newton ahead of the Cowboys, pushing a player they really want to them at No. 9.
Jones said his goal for the early pick is to be an immediate contributor, which would seem to rule out Newton. He also said that quarterback is not an immediate need, though it shouldn't be dismissed.
Jones pointed to the offensive line, the defensive line, safety and cornerback as the biggest areas of concern.
Jones acknowledged that if certain defensive linemen were available at No. 9, the Cowboys couldn't pass on the opportunity. Possible defensive linemen who are considered top-10 players are Alabama's Marcell Dareus, Clemson's Da'Quan Bowers, North Carolina's Robert Quinn, Auburn's Nick Fairley and California's Cameron Jordan.
No moves likely
Jerry Jones said the team will probably not release anyone before the Thursday deadline, signaling the end of the 2010 league year and ushering in a possible lockout.
But he hedged his comment by saying there could be one exception.
"At this time, on our roster, there's only one -- as of that date," Jones said. "We have the right to do that later as well."
Two players on the roster bubble for next year who have dates tied to money are offensive tackle Marc Colombo and running back Marion Barber. Colombo is due a $2.6 option bonus on the 15th day of the new league year, which jives with Jones' comments about having the right to make a move later.
Barber is due a $500,000 roster bonus in June.
Free agent watch
Jerry Jones declined to comment about pursuing any of the current free agents before the Thursday deadline.
Safeties Bob Sanders and O.J. Atogwe, who were released by the Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Rams, respectively, could fill a huge need, as could defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, who was released by the Cleveland Browns. Rogers played for defensive coordinator Rob Ryan when he was with the Browns the past two years.
Jones refused to offer an opinion on either, but also declined to say the Cowboys weren't interested.
"That would be a competitive thing. I don't want to comment there," Jones said.
Clarence E. Hill Jr.