Lun. Jul 15th, 2024


ARLINGTON, Texas — Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones does not believe Dak Prescott’s $59.45 million salary cap figure has affected the team’s approach to free agency.

The Cowboys were the last team to add a player from another team in free agency with the one-year agreement made with linebacker Eric Kendricks on Wednesday. They have reached deals to re-sign long-snapper Trent Sieg and cornerback Jourdan Lewis.

The Cowboys have traditionally slow-played free agency, choosing to play on the edges rather than paying big money when it begins.

«I feel like we are able to cut and shoot,» Jones said Thursday after announcing AT&T Stadium would host Kid Rock’s Rock N Rodeo as a prelude to the PBR World Finals in May. «Dak’s been willing to work with us. We’ve had good discussions about him and his contract. He’s all-in in working with us, and we’ve had personal discussions with Dak as well. Other than that, that’s all we’ll say about that, our negotiations with him. We want to keep that private. Won’t get into timelines, but certainly a priority of ours.»

Prescott is entering the final year of his contract and is set to make $29 million in base salary with a $5 million roster bonus due Saturday. The Cowboys cannot place the franchise tag on him, based on a clause in his contract, and he also has a no-trade contract.

Last week, Prescott expressed confidence in a new deal getting done.

While that would provide the Cowboys ample room against the cap to make deals, it’s likely they would continue with their same approach to free agency. They have not made a major free agent addition since signing cornerback Brandon Carr to a five-year, $50 million deal in 2012.

While NFC East foes have made big moves, such as Saquon Barkley joining the Philadelphia Eagles; Brian Burns being traded to the New York Giants; and the Washington Commanders signing several free agents, including former Cowboys Dorance Armstrong and Tyler Biadasz; Jones is taking a big-picture view.

«There’s a lot to be played out between now and our first game next year,» Jones said. «I don’t think you win a Super Bowl championship on the first, second or third day of the league year.»

But fans’ frustration has been louder this offseason, especially with the Super Bowl drought at 28 years and counting after a 48-32 loss to the Green Bay Packers in the wild-card round of the playoffs.

«Everybody certainly has that right,» Jones said. «I know where the frustration is; it’s the fact that we have not had a lot of success in the playoffs to their satisfaction. Until we do that, the criticism is certainly something that’s going to be there … but we are going to stick with what we believe will ultimately get us a championship for our fans. We don’t define all-in by what you spend in free agency.»

The addition of Kendricks fills a major need for the Cowboys, especially with Leighton Vander Esch not expected to continue playing. Last year, the Cowboys played a converted safety, Markquese Bell, at linebacker after Vander Esch was hurt.

Kendricks played seven seasons with the Minnesota Vikings under new Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. Jones said Zimmer and run game coordinator Paul Guenther, who was a Vikings assistant, «influenced us in a big way.»

«I just think he’ll be a great fit,» Jones said of Kendricks. «He’ll walk right in and be one of the leaders on defense right away. He knows what Mike’s trying to do on defense.»

Jones did not close the door on the return of left tackle Tyron Smith. At the combine, it appeared unlikely he would return to the Cowboys for a 14th season, but he remains unsigned.

«Tyron Smith’s going to be a Hall of Fame football player, and he’s had an amazing career,» Jones said. «We’ve not shut the door on a continued career here in Dallas. … He’s one of the great left tackles to play the game.»

The Cowboys also have a hole at running back after losing Tony Pollard in free agency to the Tennessee Titans. They did not get into heavy discussions for Derrick Henry, who signed with the Baltimore Ravens, or Aaron Jones, who signed with the Vikings.

Jones acknowledged the Cowboys «don’t have an established back in the organization right now,» with just Deuce Vaughn, Malik Davis and Hunter Luepke getting carries last year. Pollard’s backup, Rico Dowdle, is also a free agent.

The draft could be the way the Cowboys find their lead back for 2024.

«This is an organization that has been built on great backs, whether it’s Tony Dorsett, Herschel Walker, Emmitt Smith, Ezekiel Elliott or Tony Pollard. We’re big believers in backs. They bring a lot to the table,» Jones said. «Unfortunately, we’re at a point where we have to make some decisions in terms of where we allocate dollars. … We feel like there’s going to be ways to address the running back situation in a more efficient way. We’ll see how that works out.»


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