The Dallas Cowboys opened the 2019 NFL Training Camp season in their distant home of Oxnard, California last Saturday afternoon.
Since the opening of camp, it’s been more speculation about off-the-field issues rather than their progression and preparation for the upcoming season.
Like the other 31 teams in the NFL, the Dallas Cowboys have many questions around their organization as they enter into the new season.
The main questions or doubts about the Cowboys during training camp are circulated around contract talks with some of their household name players. Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, Amari Cooper, Jaylon Smith and Byron Jones are some of the key players on the current Cowboys squad seeking a new contract extension for the near future.
As the days in training camp go by, more attention is drawn to players’ contract talks rather than how they’ve been performing on the field.
While it’s great for the players and organization to be active in contract negotiations, it’s not healthy for money talks to swarm and take over an organization.
Thursday afternoon Stephen Jones, team executive vice president, spoke on Dallas radio station 1310 The Ticket and broke down in detail how he and the upper brass of the Cowboys’ organization are handling the expanded contract talks on behalf of Elliott, Prescott and Cooper.
“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.
“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 and 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 do it that way. Whether it’s Prescott (Dak), whether it’s Cooper (Amari), whether it’s Elliott (Zeke), they all understand we’ve got a whole group of young players coming up 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.”
The Cowboys face an uphill climb in retaining all their core players for the near future.
Elliott, who is currently distant from the team, is entering his second to last year of his original rookie contract.
His contract in full was $24,956,341 million over four years and an annual salary of $6,239,085 million. Elliott is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent during the 2021 offseason.
Prescott is entering his last year of his four-year $2,723,393 rookie contract. His annual salary is currently $680,848 per year and he’s scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after this season is concluded.
Cooper is on the tail end of his four-year contract worth over $22 million with an average salary of roughly five million. He will be an unrestricted free agent following the end of this NFL season.
Cooper’s name has been thrusted into the spotlight more because of the mega-deal Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints star receiver inked earlier in the week.
Cooper’s number’s last season weren’t far off from Thomas’ numbers and many believe Cooper is owed a huge contract like Thomas because his production on the field and his behavior off the field prove he’s earned the right for a max deal.
Furthermore, Smith and Jones are entering their final seasons under their contracts as well and both players can become free agents after this season is over.
The Cowboys are in an interesting position because they have an overabundance of talent, but can’t seem to make decisions on how they’re going to play the players they want to secure for the future.
As of right now the only player who is giving the Cowboys major issues about contract talks is Elliott. He’s continued his holdout throughout the week and the Cowboys’ front office hasn’t offered Elliott an counter offer.
Besides Elliott, all the other players on the team seemed focused on training hard in camp to better prepare themselves for the 2019-20 NFL season.
It would be easy for players like Prescott, Cooper and others to demand their money or even start a holdout, but instead they’re leading by example and continuing to play for the team while trusting the organization and their agents to get their contract negotiations done. If the Cowboys want to meet and exceed expectations this season they’ll need to rid themselves of excess distractions such as contract talks, because that does nothing but drag more uncertainty into the light.
The Cowboys will continue their training camp this weekend and into the depths of next week as players continue to compete for a spot on the final 53-man roster.
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