News unexpectedly broke yesterday that the Cowboys had just signed a contract extension and were holding a press conference to announce it. However, the biggest surprise was that it was Jaylon Smith, not any of the offense’s big three, who was signed to a new deal.
While talks with Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott and Amari Cooper have mostly stalled over the summer, the Dallas Cowboys have signed a key piece to their future, with linebacker Jaylon Smith agreeing to a five-year, $65 million deal with $35.5 guaranteed, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The deal makes Smith, 24, the third-highest-paid inside linebacker in the league in terms of guaranteed money.
Smith was set to become a restricted free agent after this season, but he opted to take the security of a longer-term deal now rather than going through a potentially protracted negotiation. The Cowboys also opted for getting a deal done now despite having control over Smith for the next four years, including his restricted free agency tender in 2020 and two functional franchise tag years after that.
Jerry Jones: Team takes precedent, and I’ve got backbone to keep it that way - Charean Williams, NBC Sports
During the press conference for Jaylon Smith’s contract extension announcement, Jerry Jones took some time to send a not so subtle message to Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott, and Amari Cooper regarding their ongoing contract statuses.
The Cowboys held up Smith as an example of how to get a deal done quickly if players are willing to take team-friendly deals. The Cowboys have preached team-friendly deals to Prescott, Elliott and Cooper, which is a sticking point. The players’ agents have made it clear it’s not their job to manage the team’s salary cap.
“I wouldn’t speculate on what’s in somebody’s mind about that,” Jones said of Prescott, Elliott and Cooper. “But the way to get this done is people to have a little more thought about team, and that’s certainly in Jaylon’s mind.
“. . .The team takes precedent at a point over the opinion or the demand of the individual. The team takes precedent [sic]. This was a team move we are talking about today. The team takes precedent, and I’ve got the backbone to keep it that way.”
And now that Jones signed a five-year extension worth $64 million, “There’s less pie left [for others]; make no bones about it.”
While the Cowboys ensured on Tuesday that one of their defensive stars would be around for the long term, they also got two other guys back for the short term. Both DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford, key cogs on the defensive line, are now able to practice again.
Monday brought word that defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence would be activated from the physically unable to perform list soon and that was proven correct when the team activated him on Tuesday. Lawrence had shoulder surgery after signing a long-term deal with the team in April and has been rehabbing with a target of playing in Week One.
In addition to activating Lawrence, the Cowboys also took Tyrone Crawford off of the PUP list. Crawford had hip surgery this offseason.
Head coach Jason Garrett said at a Tuesday press conference that both players are expected to do individual work during their first practice of the summer.
How Cowboys’ Dak Prescott Can Benefit From Waiting to Negotiate His Contract - Andrew Brandt, Sports Illustrated
While contract negotiations carry on between Dak Prescott and the Cowboys front office, and as football media types endlessly debate what he does or does not deserve, it’s easy to overlook just how much leverage Prescott has, according to Andrew Brandt.
Knowing he is staring at a remaining compensation of $2 million, the Cowboys will float a signing bonus of $25-30 million in front of Prescott with a team-friendly deal attached to it. That enticement will be tough for Prescott to turn down, like it would be for any young player, and he may well make a deal.
If, however, Prescott were able to resist the instant gratification of signing a lucrative contract now, he would gain considerably more leverage in a few months, when he will either be a free agent, able to leverage negotiations among multiple bidders or, much more likely, given the Franchise Tag. At that time the “starting point” for Prescott’s negotiation will not be $2 million, as it is now, but rather $25 million! Once there, an offer of a $30 million bonus with several years of service attached to it will not be so enticing to Prescott. The question is, as it is for all young players in the NFL, can he wait?
Dak Prescott is understandably trying to make sure his next contract pays him like a top-tier quarterback, but according to Pro Football Focus, Prescott is only a mid-tier quarterback.
The other quarterbacks listed in Prescott’s tier include Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson, Jared Goff, Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford, and Cam Newton, all ranked in front of him. Prescott is ahead of a couple of tier 3 passers as well, though, including Jimmy Garoppolo and Derek Carr.
“Even with his added rushing ability, Prescott has settled in as a mid-tier quarterback whose production is more dependent on his supporting cast, and this will be a big year to see if he can get back to his rookie levels of efficiency.”
Personally, I’d rank Prescott ahead of a decent number of those tier 3 quarterbacks, such as Stafford and Cousins. Overall, though, it’s tough to have too big an issue with their assessment of Prescott and the Cowboys offense. He has been somewhat up-and-down during his time as the Cowboys starter, and saw a big spike in his play when given Amari Cooper as a weapon in the passing game a year ago.
Jerry Jones addresses ‘Zeke who?’ comment: ‘I’ve earned the right to joke with’ him - Thomas Lott, Sporting News
“Zeke who?” It’s the joke heard round the world. Predictably, Ezekiel Elliott’s agent has said that Zeke was offended by the joke, and it’s being used as fuel to the fire that is the star running back’s contract holdout. On Tuesday, Jerry Jones had a very straightforward response.
“I’ve earned the right to joke with Zeke,” Jones said in a press conference Tuesday. “Let me be real clear about that. I’ve earned the right to joke with Zeke.”
Elliott remains a holdout from camp as he is looking for a new contract. The Cowboys picked up his fifth-year option and he is locked up with the team for another two seasons.
The 24-year-old is a two-time rushing champion and led the league in carries in 2016 and 2018 and with the average running back career in the NFL sitting at 2.57 years, he is looking to get paid as much as he can, as soon as he can.
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