The Dallas Cowboys on Friday obtained the No. 1 pick in Sunday's National Football League draft from the New England Patriots and immediately touched off a whirlwind of speculation about what they would do with it.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said "ongoing delicate negotiations" prevented the team from discussing any of the options they might choose to exercise prior to the opening of the draft at noon EDT Sunday.Dallas could use the pick, in which case they likely would take Notre Dame flanker Raghib Ismail, or the Cowboys could deal the choice to any number of teams that want Ismail more than they do.
Ismail, the gamebreaking return specialist who helped Notre Dame win one national title and almost capture another, has said he would rather play in Canada than for the Patriots. But he also has said the Cowboys would be high on his list of NFL choices.
Dallas Coach Jimmy Johnson previously worked for current New England general manager and former University of Miami athletic director Sam Jankovich. But in taking the pressure off his old friend, Johnson may have set himself up for a draft-day coup.
The Cowboys still have three picks in the first round, so whatever they choose to do will affect the entire draft.
"You know the Cowboys," Johnson said during a brief news conference announcing the trade. "Anything is possible."
The deal was announced less than 24 hours after the Cowboys announced they had broken off negotiations with New England and declared the deal dead. But they came to an agreement early Friday with the Patriots, although the full extent of the trade was not immediately announced.
Jones said the Cowboys obtained New England's choice in exchange for the 11th overall pick and Dallas' second-round choice, which is the 41st in the draft. He said the Cowboys would also give the Patriots "additional undisclosed considerations."
The consensus at the Cowboys headquarters Friday was that the undisclosed considerations would be one or more veteran players.
The Patriots also announced they had obtained Houston's No. 1 pick, 17th overall, in exchange for the first pick of the second round and New England's third selection in the fourth round. That selection was obtained from the Seattle Seahawks in last year's draft.
New England, which finished with the worst record in the NFL last season with a 1-15 mark, now has four of the top 56 picks in the draft.
Sam Jankovich, the Patriots' chief executive officer, called the deal good for both clubs.
"We felt there was no way in the world we would sign the Rocket," Jankovich told a news conference in Foxboro, Mass. "We were quite a ways apart. I could not imagine even coming close to getting together. We felt this was an excellent offer as far as the New England Patriots are concerned."
Jones said as soon as the Cowboys completed the trade with the Patriots, he began discussions with Ismail's agent. But Jones would not say whether the Cowboys were talking to other teams as well.
Speculation centered around Dallas trading the No. 1 pick to another team with the current negotiations involving contract talks between Ismail and other clubs.