Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said Tuesday the four-year, $52.5 million contract Le'Veon Bell signed with the New York Jets "reset" the running back market as the Cowboys attempt to end a holdout by superstar rusher Ezekiel Elliott.
Jones explained during an appearance on 105.3 The Fan the previous standard, a deal between Todd Gurley and the Los Angeles Rams for $14.375 million annually, must be reevaluated since Bell received around $1 million less per season as an unrestricted free agent:
"I think the market reset with Le'Veon," he said. "I think you see what happens with Gurley and you get a great player like Le'Veon, who's every bit as well thought of as Gurley and he had unfettered free agency. He had 32 teams with no draft picks attached, and the market was $13.5 million ... less than Gurley's. At the end of the day, business changes, and we pay attention to that."
Jones wouldn't provide exact details about Dallas' proposals to the two-time rushing champion.
"I don't want to get into what we've offered, but we've been very generous with our offer," he told 105.3 The Fan.
The Cowboys are going to face several key contract decisions over the next year. Along with Elliott's push for a new deal, quarterback Dak Prescott and wide receiver Amari Cooper can become unrestricted free agents after the 2019 campaign.
Dallas could use the franchise tag to keep one of those players, but the team's offensive core is at risk if the front office isn't able to get the other two signed.
Right now, Elliott, 24, is set to rank 11th among running backs in total cash for the 2019 season at $3.9 million, per Spotrac.
His production suggests he belongs much higher on the list and it's hard to blame an elite player at the position, which has an aggressive aging curve where players hit their peak well before the age of 30, trying to maximize his earning while still at the peak of his powers.
The Cowboys don't seem willing to budge, however, with Jones saying Tuesday's ESPN report "certainly doesn't change anything" in their view of the negotiations.