FRISCO - The idea of Jameis Winston in a Dallas Cowboys uniform is not a new one. We delved into it with some depth last spring, both as a spit-balling issue before Dak Prescott agreed to his franchise-tag deal and then as a serious consideration before Andy Dalton was signed to serve as Dak's caddie.
Some things have changed at the Dallas QB position. But has the idea of Winston changed?
As one NFL assistant coach told us last spring, before former Tampa Bay starter Winston was dumped there and picked up to be Drew Brees' backup in New Orleans, "Any coach worth his salt would like to take a stab at fixing Jameis.''
"Fixing,'' because Winston's pedigree is incredible. At 6-4 and 230 and still just 26, he's big, strong, fast, a Heisman Trophy winner, a No. 1 overall pick, and hey, how about those 33 TD passes last year?
Yeah, but what about the 30 interceptions that undid all the good he achieved?
The Cowboys didn't bother with Winston at the time. There are those who think they should bother now. But they seem to be ignoring the obstacles and the facts. To wit:
*While smart guys like Peter Schrager and Nate Burleson of NFL Network lead a charge of a Winston trade, there are no indications that the Saints have any intention of dealing the talented backup to the 41-year-old Brees.
Indeed, anyone who thinks Dallas needs a capable backup now that Dak is out for the year should surely recognize that New Orleans - by leaps and bounds a more legit contender than Dallas - needs one even more. (There would be some risk in handing Tayson Hill that job, though the do-it-all backup is on the Saints roster.)
*Those who toss out this idea seem to think that the Jon Bostic’s hit in Washington has somehow put Dalton alongside Prescott in the out-for-the-season tent. But Dalton will in fact miss just one week; he was even at practice at The Star on Friday, with the plan for rookie Ben DiNucci to serve as the one-week starter (Sunday night at Philadelphia) before Dalton - a 10-year vet with three playoff seasons to be credit - re-takes the wheel.
Said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on Friday: "I was just on the field with Dalton and was visiting with him, and he should be ready to go next week. He's through his concussion, but improving from his symptoms. ...There's no question that he's your ticket. He's an outstanding player for this role and ... under these circumstances be very productive.''
There's your answer: The Cowboys don't need Jameis because they have Dalton. If that wasn't the answer, as the Nov. 3 trade deadline looms - that is, if Dalton was out for the year - Dallas would obviously re-calculate. ... but still would prefer not to pay "whatever price it takes'' (as one media outlet suggested) for Winston, who would be a half-year rental (he's a free agent in March) with holes in his game.
The NFL Network guys - who oddly asserted that Winston "knows the system'' in Dallas (which is patently false, as he could never catch up to what Dalton and DiNucci know) suggested the Cowboys should trade a second-round pick for Winston. That mindset doesn't reflect any of the thinking here inside The Star. It's similar, in a way, to the Florida newspaper report connecting Dolphins QB Ryan Fitzpatrick to the Cowboys in the sense that the reporters clearly didn't ask anybody at The Star for an opinion.
But the Winston idea has one advantage over the Fitzpatrick idea: While neither would be any more likely to lead the 2020 Dallas Cowboys to victory, the belief in the minds of some coaches regarding A Winston Experiment remains. If Dallas ever wants a "project'' at QB, Jameis Winston is a worthy one.
Not a more immediate winner than Dalton. Not a more system-knowledgeable QB than DiNucci. And not worth a second-round pick. But an experiment. Someday.