For those keeping track at home, Jerry Jones didn’t say “if.” He said “when.”
The Dallas Cowboys team owner isn’t shying away from the Odell Beckham Jr. sweepstakes. He’s encouraging them.
“Odell is someone that we have all the appreciation in the world for what he is as a competitor,” Jones said Tuesday morning on Dallas radio station 105.3 The Fan. “I know that the Cowboys star on that helmet, when he puts it on, could look pretty good.”
That decision could come as soon as this week.
The 2014 first-round pick and three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver has yet to play a snap this season as he rehabilitates from a torn left ACL suffered in last season's Super Bowl. Timelines for Beckham’s return have hovered from mid-November to early December, per reports, but Fox Sports insider Jay Glazer reported Sunday that Beckham is “expected to be fully cleared in the next week.”
“Should be many suitors for his services,” Glazer added.
The Cowboys’ public interest has crescendoed slowly, Jones saying as recently as October 23 that “you can get in a little water” discussing Beckham interest. The reticence is gone. The pursuit is on.
“I think a veteran player like Odell, my experience has been when we’ve brought a veteran player in, they hit the ground running in terms of being able to compete,” Jones said Tuesday. “You’re looking at player who his experience far outweighs any ambiguity with how he’s going to fit your system.”
Head coach Mike McCarthy also expressed his affinity for Beckham on Monday:
Mike McCarthy on Cowboys interest in OBJ: "No. 1, we really love our receiver group. I really like the balance of the veterans vs. young guys. We got better football with more opportunities in front of us. But in particular to Odell, I have always been a huge fan of his."
— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) November 7, 2022
"I’ve always been so impressed with his football playing ability. But I have just heard so many excellent things about him over the years" from coaches such as Ben McAdoo, Joe Whitt.
"I think those are conversations for the future. Right now, we are focused on our guys."
— Jori Epstein (@JoriEpstein) November 7, 2022
The Cowboys’ defense has largely powered their 6-2 season start, their offense rounding into form more recently. Dallas ranks 15th in the league with 22.6 points per game, and 22nd by averaging 322.1 yards. An effective running game has driven much of that, as the Cowboys passing attack is just 25th-best at 190.6 yards per game.
But already, Dallas’ in-house roster is trending in the right direction. Quarterback Dak Prescott has started and won two straight games after missing five while recovering from a Week 1 thumb fracture in his throwing hand. Receiver Michael Gallup had his most efficient, albeit still modest, day with four catches for 49 yards in the Cowboys’ 49-29 win over the Bears as he regains confidence post-ACL tear. Veteran James Washington (broken foot) is expected to be cleared from injured reserve soon, and the Cowboys’ rookie tight end duo of Peyton Hendershot and Jake Ferguson has combined for 153 yards and three touchdowns on 18 catches.
“I like the way we’re throwing the ball with our tight ends,” Jones said. “I think that’s meaningful in this conversation because as I see this going forward, that could basically dictate just how aggressive we are in any type of additions that we have here with our receivers.”
Beckham or not, Jones insisted he “really like(s) where we are with our receiving corps.” The Cowboys lost veterans Amari Cooper (trade to Browns) and Cedrick Wilson (free agency, Dolphins) in the offseason while expressing confidence in third-year pro CeeDee Lamb as their top receiver. Lamb has averaged 69.5 yards per game and scored three touchdowns in eight outings. He has struggled with drops at times, but caught 71.4% of targets for 77 yards and a score against the Lions just before the Cowboys' bye.
Jones touted Lamb’s ability to extend plays.
“Our offense is designed to make that aspect of his play embellished,” Jones said. “You would expect a player at this juncture in his career to show marked improvement from when he came in as a rookie. You’re really seeing that. He’s a real threat to deal with as far as the defense is concerned. He can make those 20-yard plays. You’ve got to have those.”
If the Cowboys choose to act on pursuing Beckham — and win his heart among what could be a crowded field of suitors — it will only augment the stable of weapons.
Beckham's amassed 7,367 yards and 56 touchdowns in 96 career games, and he proved effective quickly when he joined the Los Angeles Rams in the middle of last season. Beckham caught 27 passes for 305 yards and five touchdowns in eight regular-season games, and added another 21 catches for 288 yards and two scores in the playoffs en route to the Rams’ championship. Even in the Super Bowl, before suffering his second torn left ACL in 21 months, Beckham was a force, catching two passes for 52 yards and a touchdown.
Jones pointed to that body of work when justifying the pursuit of a 30-year-old, injury-riddled weapon.
He believes the Cowboys are primed to improve in the quick passing game, third downs, short-yardage situations and extended plays during which Prescott is throwing on the run.
The eternally optimistic Jones sees promise. The question, to which he appears to have a preferred answer, is whether Beckham joins the ride.
“We may or may not get something done as far as an additive, adding something to the receiving corps,” Jones said. “But if we don’t, I like where we are.”
Follow Yahoo Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein