Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones shared some of his strategy Wednesday in negotiating lucrative contract extensions for stars Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper.
Jones said he’s convinced he can reach deals with all three players. What he does not want to do is hand out contracts making those stars the highest paid players at their positions. In fact, he seemed fairly adamant about that, in an interview on 1310 The Ticket in Dallas-Fort Worth.
“We’ve got three really good football players that we’re dealing with here and that have very good representation. And they want to see the market,” Jones said (via The Athletic). “We can’t push the issue unless we want to be a market setter. And we’re damn sure not going to be a market setter, because of all the things that go with being a Dallas Cowboy.
“We want to be fair. We want our players to feel good about their contract. But at the same time, we don’t want to do things that are out of line because we can’t afford to be that way. Whether it’s Dak, whether it’s Amari, whether it’s Zeke, they all understand we’ve got a whole group of young players coming behind them that want to be Dallas Cowboys and want to stay here.
“When we save money, whether it’s with Dak, whether it’s with Zeke, whether it’s with Amari, it’s not saving Jerry and I a dollar. It’s just money that’s going to go to another player. … We’re very convicted that we’re going to get these deals done.”
Elliott, who still has two years remaining on his rookie deal, is currently holding out for a new deal. The All-Pro running back is reportedly looking for a contract exceeding the record four-year, $57.5 million extension signed by Rams running back Todd Gurley last year.
But the Cowboys have been putting more of a priority on re-signing quarterback Prescott and wide receiver Cooper, whose contracts expire at the end of the season.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported in early June that Prescott is seeking $34 million a year in a new deal. That would put him No. 2 among quarterbacks behind only Russell Wilson ($35 million average salary).
Cooper’s contract demands have been more of a mystery. A report in early May claimed he’d given the Cowboys a “shockingly high” contract demand, but that report was quickly refuted.
And Jones said he not only needs to worry about re-signing those three players, but also other young Dallas cornerstones like Pro Bowl cornerback Byron Jones, linebacker Jaylon Smith and offensive tackle La’el Collins, who all come due in the near future.
“All these are guys that are so important to our football team,” Jones said. “I promise you, Zeke, Dak, Amari all understand that.”
But Elliott, Prescott and Cooper also want to be paid what they believe they’re worth.
“It’s important for all these guys to get every bit of their worth,” Prescott told USA Today in early July. “I want to see Zeke the highest paid. I want to see Amari the highest paid. I want to see myself up there. And I don’t think any of that is too far-fetched. Because at the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, a year or two later, you’re not going to be the highest paid. That’s just the way the game goes.”