Cowboys' Jerry Jones Comments on Dak, Zeke and Amari Contract Negotiations

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistAugust 14, 2019

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones welcomes fans to his team's opening practice at the NFL football team's training camp in Oxnard, Calif., Saturday, July 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker)
Michael Owen Baker/Associated Press

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones discussed the contract situations of quarterback Dak Prescott, running back Ezekiel Elliott and wide receiver Amari Cooper on Tuesday.

According to ESPN's Todd Archer, Jones stressed the importance of keeping his young core intact moving forward: 

"It's not like me going out here and buying something that I have to decide whether I want to just spend to have that. That's not it at all. It's that I've got to realize that I can let a DeMarcus Ware out of here because I don't have enough money because I paid it to too many others. That's happened to me, and I don't want it to happen again. And we've got some top talent here."

Both Prescott and Cooper are set to enter the final year of their respective contracts, and while Elliott has two years remaining on his deal, he has been a holdout during training camp.

Dallas had to release Ware following the 2013 season because of financial constraints, and it is clear that Jones doesn't want the Cowboys to be up against the cap as a result of paying Prescott, Elliott and Cooper.

Per Archer, the Cowboys have made offers to Prescott, Elliott and Cooper that would make them among the top five highest-paid players at their respective positions. None of those offers have been accepted, and Archer noted that negotiations have been "minimal" as of late.

Although both Prescott and Cooper are set to play on expiring contracts, the greatest sense of urgency to get a deal done is likely with Elliott, since his holdout is threatening to last into the regular season.

Even so, Jones insisted that he isn't worried: 

"The issue is -- and the only bit of leverage is -- can it go into the regular season? And that's where you start paying a price if you're a team, but the player pays a price in doing that too. So all of that is, as I've said and tried to point out, when you've been in this and done it as often and as many times as I have, then it doesn't startle you. It doesn't alarm."

Jones also expressed his belief that Elliott doesn't need a ton of work in order to be successful immediately in 2019: "Zeke has the ability to just completely hit the ground running, if I may use that. We expect that, and he says it, and I believe him that he's in great shape, and so I don't think that will be an issue when he does come back. In the meantime, we have to be ready to go without him, and we're getting that way."

After Le'Veon Bell sat out the entire 2018 campaign for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Elliott seemingly has some leverage. It should be noted that the Cowboys won a pair of NFC East titles in the two seasons in which Elliott appeared in more than 10 regular-season games, including last year.

Zeke is arguably the biggest key to Dallas' success, and the Cowboys can ill afford to be without him, especially since their other options at running back are fairly unproven aside from 30-year-old veteran Alfred Morris, who didn't sign until late last month.

Jones said that he would ideally like to get at least one of his Big Three signed prior to the regular-season opener against the New York Giants on Sept. 8 at AT&T Stadium:

"The answer is yes, but I'll repeat it: Would it be better if we can get one of the players done -- and I'm not being trite -- then to not have any done of the ones you're talking about? The answer is yes. What may surprise you is we may come up with one that you haven't been asking about that might make a point in what I'm trying to make."

If Dallas can't agree to deals with all three, re-signing Elliott and one of Prescott or Cooper would be an ideal scenario, since it would give the organization more time to negotiate. Whoever doesn't get a new contract between Prescott or Cooper could play on the franchise tag next season while working out a long-term deal.

After the Cowboys acquired Cooper in a trade with the Oakland Raiders last October, they went 7-2 and scored a playoff victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

The triumvirate of Prescott, Elliott and Cooper was one of the NFL's best last season, and being without any of them would put Dallas behind the eight ball in what should be a heated race for the NFC East crown with the Philadelphia Eagles.