|Chris McGrath/Getty Images|
|Pacman Jones could fill a critical area of need for the Cowboys.|
At a time when cornerback DeAngelo Hall has been traded to Oakland, another high-profile cornerback could be dealt within the next week.
One person close to the talks predicted a deal could be completed in the next week. Dallas would get the talented and troubled Jones while the Titans would receive a mid-round draft pick.
Jones currently is on suspension and has been informed that his status for the 2008 season will be decided prior to the opening of training camp. In the interim, NFL rules stipulate that a suspended player can be traded. A team essentially would be trading a player’s contract.
It should be pointed out that trade talks sometimes fall apart. Just look at the Raiders and Hall; it took them nearly a week to finalize a contract agreement. But the Cowboys and Titans’ talks, which have been going on for some time now, have gained steam in recent days.
Initially, they started with Dallas offering Tennessee a choice of players from its roster. When the Titans could not find a player on the list they liked, the conversation shifted to a draft pick.
Should Dallas finalize a deal for Jones, it would be the latest example of the Cowboys gambling on a player other teams would not. Dallas once signed defensive linemen Alonzo Spellman, Dimitrius Underwood and Tank Johnson, each of whom came with his own set of issues. It signed wide receiver Terrell Owens at a time when there was little interest elsewhere.
And now, it is readying to reach out to Jones, who would help strengthen one of the Cowboys' biggest areas of need.
Of course, Jones first will have to be reinstated, and no one is sure if and when that will happen. But if and when it does, Jones could be the Cowboys' property, one of Jerry Jones’ biggest gambles to date.
A hairy issue
In what could be a boon for barbershops, the NFL’s competition committee is considering a rule that would ban players from having their hair cover or obscure the names on the back of player’s jersey.
|Jim McIsaac / Getty Images|
|A new proposal could have Troy Polamalu and other players sporting long locks to go scrambling for a barber.|
» Photos: Do's and Don'ts of the NFL
The Kansas City Chiefs proposed the rule that is expected to be debated, and voted on, at the league’s annual meeting later this month in Palm Beach, Fla.
It already generated discussion during a week’s worth of competition committee meetings in Naples, Fla., earlier this month.
Should it pass, it instantly would generate public debate and force players such as Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu and Jacksonville cornerback Rashean Mathis to get a haircut.
The Chiefs view longer hair as a uniform violation. But others could interpret it as a safety violation. When Kansas City played Pittsburgh in October 2006, Chiefs running back Larry Johnson pulled down Polamalu from behind grabbing ahold of his hair.
There apparently has been no empirical data that supports that longer hair is a safety issue, but it is an issue with at least one team. And it will generate discussion and debate.
It is hardly something that has the NFL pulling out its hair. But it is something that soon could have players trimming theirs.
For years, the NFL has wrestled with how to make the preseason more compelling. Now it’s about to intensify those debates.
One of the topics that will be debated at this month’s meetings will be how to make the preseason more pertinent.
NFL owners and executives will debate the merits of shortening the preseason, lengthening the regular season, or even making the preseason count as a tiebreaker toward the postseason.
All of these ideas are preliminary, but they are being debated behind closed doors. They could generate more momentum later this month and be enacted as soon as the 2008 season.
But players frequently have complained about the length of the preseason, fans have hardly been happy about it, and the league is now exploring whether it can do something about it.
Some big days loom for some big-time college prospects.
North Carolina defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer injured his hamstring at the Senior Bowl in January, and subsuquently missed the scouting combine in Indianapolis in February.
But Balmer is said to be fully recovered from his hamstring problems and is ready to run for NFL coaches and scouts at his pro day in Chapel Hill, N.C., on April 1.
After Balmer’s pro day, other teams want more time with him. The Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets each have booked private visits with Belmar. It’s no surprise there. Good defensive tackles are difficult to find, and Belmar is considered one of the best in this class.
Meanwhile, Vanderbilt will hold its pro day on Friday with a special attraction. Former Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Culter will return to school to throw the football to his former receiver, Earl Bennett, whom many teams view as a first-day pick. Cutler’s throws will be designed to make Bennett shine.
» Good pickup for the New England Patriots, signing free-agent cornerback Fernando Bryant to a one-year contract. New England lost defensive backs Asante Samuel, Randall Gay and Eugene Wilson and needs all the replacements it can find. Now it has two –- Bryant and Jason Webster. It is questionable whether the new Patriots are as good as the players they are replacing, but cornerbacks do not have to be stars in New England’s defensive system. They just have to be steady.
» Pittsburgh sent a strong message Thursday when it cut wide receiver Cedrick Wilson one day after he was arrested for allegedly striking his ex-girlfriend.
» Note to NFL schedule maker: The Raiders have two additionally compelling matchups in Oakland next season. They will host Hall’s former Falcons team, as well as the Carolina Panthers and Hall’s nemesis, wide receiver Steve Smith.