WACO, Texas (Feb. 15, 2007) -- While Jerry Jones expects Terrell Owens to still be with the Dallas Cowboys next season, the team owner stopped short of guaranteeing that.
Jones said he was enthusiastic about Owens' phone call to Wade Phillips, the new coach who made a point last week during his introductory news conference to refer to the receiver by name.
"I am, of course I am," Jones said. "We've got some decisions to make, but still, I'm enthusiastic about it."
Owens is due a roster bonus in June. Cutting him before then would save a lot of money.
Jones, speaking before his induction into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, was asked to clarify if there was still a decision to be made about Owens returning.
"He's part of our team, that's what I'm saying," Jones said. "I don't want the play on the words to look one way or another. We are evaluating everybody, but still, my plans are for him to be back."
Owens was the Cowboys' leading receiver last season, with 85 catches for 1,180 yards and a league-best 13 touchdowns. But T.O. is known as much for off-the-field distractions, and former coach Bill Parcells often referred to him as "the player" instead of by name.
Phillips has said he makes a point of getting the most out of his best players. His background is in defense, but he proudly notes that tight end Shannon Sharpe and wide receiver Eric Moulds flourished when he was their head coach.
Jones believes that could be the case with the Dallas receivers as well.
"We've got a chance to take players like Terry Glenn, who (new receivers coach Ray) Sherman coached, take a player like Terrell Owens, and really work to maximize their individual skills," Jones said. "I know that's Wade's philosophy in general about players, don't let the scheme keep you from using the player and let him do what he does the best.
"There's no question that last year, by having Terrell come in and having been with San Francisco and then with Philadelphia, in those West Coast-type offenses, we changed the game up for him a little bit."
Jones said that Phillips and Owens haven't had a chance to meet in person, and didn't know about any plans yet to do that.
"Terrell has not been in town. They did talk, Terrell searched him out," Jones said. "He got his phone number, so he was pretty resourceful to run him down on the road."