Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has made it clear that he has no plans to relinquish his duties as general manager, which means that his suspect personnel decisions will be part of any conversation about the team as long as it continues to struggle.
One of the worst trades in the Jones era came in October 2008, when he sent 2009 first- and third-round picks to the Lions for wide receiver Roy Williams. The deal can kindly be described as a disaster, but it also meant the Cowboys wouldn't pick until the second round (51st overall) of the '09 NFL Draft.
Except that just before Dallas was set to go on the clock, Jones traded that 51st pick to the Bills in exchange for Buffalo's '09 third (75th overall) and fourth-rounders (110th overall). The reasoning? According to NFL Network's Michelle Beisner at the time, Jones said that all the players at positions of need were taken.
But that's not entirely true, at least to hear former Cowboys scout Bryan Broaddus explain it.
"If you go back to the 2009 draft, [the Cowboys front office] sat there and they had LeSean McCoy with a first-round grade," Broaddus told KRLD-FM 105.3 (via the Dallas Morning News). "The problem was, they weren't willing to take LeSean McCoy. That's the issue. Don't window dress your board. They're sitting there in the second round and they've got LeSean McCoy with a first-round grade on their board. That's value.
"They did it [got it right] with Sean Lee [in 2010], they did it with Bruce Carter [in 2011]. They sat there, they took the guy that was on the board that they were supposed to take. Mistakes are made when you jump around on the board. Jerry's done it a couple of different times.
"The Quincy Carter draft, we had Kendrell Bell there, first-round grade, ends up going the second round," Broaddus continued. "[Bell] goes right behind us to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ends up being AFC defensive rookie of the year. And then we take Quincy Carter. That was a forced pick right there. You had a guy there you had a better grade on, you probably could have got Quincy Carter later in the draft. That's where you get in trouble leapfrogging around."
In 2009, the Bills ended up with guard Andy Levitre with the 51st selection, and McCoy went to the Eagles two picks after that. The Cowboys, meanwhile, took tackle Robert Brewster (at No. 75) and defensive end Victor Butler (at No. 110) with the two picks they got from the Bills to trade down.
But not every one of Jones' personnel decisions have ended in failure. Broaddus recounted a story from the 2003 draft.
"Once that board is set, those are the guys you're going to take," he said. "We're sitting in the third round and all of a sudden you get a first-round grade on Jason Witten. Jerry looks up at the board and says I think we need to take Jason Witten here boys. Those are the positive things that happen."
The bottom line, of course, is winning. The Cowboys haven't been to the playoffs in three years and have just one postseason win since the 1997 season. Some of that blame falls to Jones, NFL general manager, who once said, “I've made a lot worse mistakes,” in reference to the Roy Williams trade.
Jones could just as easily have been talking about Quincy Carter, Joey Galloway (in 2000, Jones sent the Seahawks two first-rounders for Galloway), or passing up Shady McCoy for Brewster and Butler (the former played in the Arena League in 2012; the latter has two career starts for the Cowboys in four NFL seasons).
Unfortunately for Cowboys fans, Jimmy Johnson ain't walkin' through that door to fix things.