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Cowboys news: Front-office negotiating tactics scrutinized; still no Zeke; a preseason loss

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The Cowboys’ front office are not every agent’s favorite team to negotiate with.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Testaverde’s son debuts, Bucs top Cowboys 17-15 in preseason - AP Staff

The Cowboys weren’t risking anybody in the final preseason game, including their top QBs. But have they found someone new for the third spot?

The Cowboys sat their top two quarterbacks in Dak Prescott and Cooper Rush, and Mike White didn’t do much to displace Rush as the backup. The fifth-round pick from 2018 was 14 of 26 for 132 yards without a touchdown or interception.

Dallas kept three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster last year but doesn’t seem likely to do that again. White is a candidate for the practice squad, although [Taryn] Christion’s versatility could influence that decision after a spotty preseason from White.

5 observations from Cowboys-Buccaneers: Texas A&M’s Donovan Wilson earns roster spot, Mike White done in Dallas - Calvin Watkins, DMN

A few observations from the Cowboys loss to the Bucs.

Jordan Chunn vs. Mike Weber

As of now, let’s just say Ezekiel Elliott isn’t going to play Week 1 against the Giants. So the running backs are: Tony Pollard, Alfred Morris and fullback Jamize Olawale.

So will the Cowboys go with a third running back?

Chunn and Weber were kind of competing for this spot. Chunn left the game with a rib injury leaving Weber with some late second-half carries. It appeared Chunn was going to make the 53 with Weber hoping to return on the practice squad.

Trysten Hill playing in the final preseason game

The Cowboys will say second-round pick, defensive tackle Tyrsten Hill needed the snaps but it was interesting to see him play until the fourth quarter of the final preseason game.

Hill needs more work on his pass rush, the effort is there but not the results. Hill is someone who will be active on game days, but his playing time will be limited it seems at least early on as an under tackle.

Hill has the ability to improve as the season progresses, but right now it’s just not happening for him. Hill finished the game with zero tackles.

Jerry Jones, Cowboys 'notorious' for circumventing agents- Jason Owens - YahooSports
Jerry Jones all but admitted to circumventing agents Wednesday, which violates the collective bargaining agreement.

It turns out they’re not a big fan of dealing with agents. They’d rather deal directly with players, according to an agent who spoke with Garafalo.

“That team is notorious for trying to go around the agent, going right to the player and getting the player to believe ‘hey it’s better to be a Dallas Cowboy,’” Garafalo said an agent told him on Wednesday.

On one hand, this could be construed as a surprising revelation in that the practice would violate U.S. labor laws and the collective bargaining agreement, as Pro Football Talk points out. On another hand, it’s not the least bit surprising. Especially considering that team owner Jerry Jones all but admitted to the practice on Dallas radio Wednesday morning.

“When you cut out people in between the money and the player, we all know that agents, attorneys have their agendas,” Jones told 105.3 The Fan, per The Athletic’s Jon Machota. “By the way, they are all taking money out of the pie too when they’re there. The straighter it goes from the source to the one receiving it, nine times out of 10, that’s more efficient.”

Dez Bryant resisted Jerry Jones’ effort to bypass an agent – ProFootballTalk
After yesterday's rumors of the Cowboys taking liberties in negotiating directly with their players, an old story of Dez Bryant's negotiation process confirmed these rumors.

As explained by long-time NFL reporter Jason Cole, and confirmed by Dez Bryant, Jones brought Dez to a suite at the team’s stadium to discuss the player’s contract. Dez said he didn’t want to do that. Jones persisted.

“Mr. Jones, what would happen if you tried to cover me on that field,” Bryant said, gesturing to the playing surface below the suite.

“Well, Dez, you’d kill me,” Jones said.

“Well, Mr. Jones, then why would I want to negotiate a contract against you?” Dez said.

Not every player resists; otherwise, Jones wouldn’t keep trying to do it. And even though he has done it for years without scrutiny or consequence, the NFL Players Association currently is looking into the situation.

Cowboys prepared to start season without Ezekiel Elliott - Mark Lane -WFAA.com
The Cowboys are preparing to play games without Ezekiel Elliott as he continues to wait it out for a contract extension, a week before the season opener.

Week 1 of the NFL’s 100th season is nigh, but a contract extension with the former 2016 first-round pick from Ohio State does not seem to be on the horizon. Nonetheless the Cowboys front office is prepared for life with or without Elliott when they kick off the regular season.

”We’ve been preparing for that,” chief operating officer Stephen Jones said Wednesday at the team’s annual kickoff luncheon at AT&T Stadium. “That’s why we brought Alfred [Morris] in. As we’ve said, we’ve been so pleasantly surprised, [Tony] Pollard has been even better than we expected. No, we’re very comfortable with what we have there.”

In addition to Morris, who has been with the Cowboys every season of the Elliott tenure, save for 2018, and fourth-round rookie Pollard, the Cowboys have rookie Mike Weber from Ohio State along with Jordan Chunn and Darius Jackson. Of course, the latter trio are battling for a spot on the 53-man roster to begin with, and unlike when a player is suspended, Elliott’s roster spot during a holdout counts. Dallas won’t be able to have a rent-a-player during the holdout, however long it drags.

Jerry Jones on impasse -- 'Fresh' Zeke for playoffs is OK -Todd Archer- ESPN
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, the everlasting optimist, says as long as Ezekiel Elliott's holdout is, the fresher he'll be when he hits the field.

Jerry Jones went so far as to see the positive of Elliott missing games, at least early in the season.

”We’ve got a marathon here,” Jerry Jones said. “We want Zeke when we get to the playoffs. We want Zeke when we’re in the dog days of this season. ... A fresh Zeke, if we got to the end, would be great.”

As for Elliott’s off-the-field missteps, including one that led to a six-game suspension in 2017, Jones said those are not a factor in the negotiations.

”I’m very comfortable with everything off the field for Zeke,” Jones said.

Zack Martin: We’ve Got A Good Back in Tony Pollard- DallasCowboys.com
A lot of people are confident that the Cowboys can stay in the hunt without Ezekiel Elliott because rookie Tony Pollard has something special. Zack Martin is the latest to heap praise on the rookie.

While Martin’s focus is to get back to that level, he knows he needs a strong running game behind him. So even without practicing, he couldn’t escape the media’s routine Ezekiel Elliott question. The All-Pro guard was asked on his thoughts of Zeke continuing his holdout despite the season now less than two weeks away.

“Listen, we’re preparing for the season. We’re going to play with what we’ve got. And what we’ve got is a damn good back in Tony Pollard,” Martin said. “Obviously you want (Zeke) out here but we’re preparing to get ready for Week 1.”

Cowboys have received calls about offensive and defensive line depth... who could possibly be traded? -RJ Ochoa- Blogging The Boys
Could the Cowboys be making a move before final rosters are set?

With all that being said, considering how deep the Cowboys roster currently sits in the minds of many, could they actually be considering trading someone away from the team? It makes sense, and according to Stephen Jones there are interested parties.

Trading away players is always a risk because the moment you let go of depth you immediately make yourself more vulnerable in the event that you need said depth. Still though, if the Cowboys find the right deal it always makes sense to negotiate and perhaps they’re going to.

Considering Stephen Jones mentioned the offensive and defensive lines specifically as points that could be picked off by other teams, who are potential names? We’ve got three right here that would certainly make some sense.

Sink or swim: If Jerry Jones’ talented crew doesn’t make a voyage deep into the postseason, there will be consequences- David Moore
This is a big year for the Cowboys organization, lots of changes could be in-store should they fail to reach their goals.

The Cowboys are coming off their third NFC East title in the last five years. Only one team in the NFL has more division titles in that span. New England.

What do the Cowboys have to show for it? The team has stalled in the divisional round each time.

The nucleus is young. But if the Cowboys fail to get past the second round again, it means quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott have been unable to nudge the team beyond the bar set their rookie seasons. It would indicate a ceiling has been hit.

That’s why Garrett enters the final year of his contract.

Stephen Jones believes Garrett remains the right man for the job. But the club’s executive vice president has acknowledged repeatedly in recent months that this team needs to push deeper into the postseason.

”I’ve never seen this team not play hard for him, even in tough situations,’’ Stephen Jones said. “I’ve always seen his teams play hard for Jason all the way to the end, even when we knew in some cases we were out of it. The guys respond well to him. They play hard for him.’’

But?

”We’ve got to take the next step,’’ he said.

Five biggest questions in NFC : #2 Will all this offseason drama ruin the Cowboys- Jeffri Chadiha NFL.com
Can the Cowboys flourish in spite of all the contract extension drama or will it swallow them whole?

The Cowboys just can’t help themselves. This should be the time of year when we’re talking about all the talent on this roster, along with the many great things that could stem from it. Instead, the entire offseason was filled with chatter about how owner Jerry Jones is going to manage the costs of contract extensions for quarterback Dak Prescott (under contract through 2019), running back Ezekiel Elliott(under contract through 2020) and wide receiver Amari Cooper (under contract through 2019), with Elliott staying away from the team this preseason. It would be one thing if the Cowboys were a veteran-dominated team impervious to being sidetracked by issues off the field. But most of this team’s best players have less than five years in the NFL, which means leadership could be a real problem for this bunch. And that’s not even getting into the ramifications of Elliott’s holdout potentially continuing into the regular season.

The NFC is so stacked that one or two losses out of the gate could have significant consequences on the playoff race come December. As good as the Cowboys are, the Eagles are better. If the Cowboys have to compete for a wild-card spot, they could end up going against as many as seven other squads vying for the same two bids. This isn’t to say Dallas can’t rally after a slow start; after all, that is exactly what the Cowboys did last year, winning the NFC East after starting 3-5. It’s just that it’s beginning to look like they’ll kick off the regular season with some key players facing uncertainty over their future with the team, which could keep them from maintaining the proper overall mindset. That might very well be their undoing in the end.

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