clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Cowboys news: Will Byron Jones get squeezed out in free agency?

New, comments

With all the guys that the Cowboys will look to pay, will Byron Jones be the odd man out?

NFL: NFC Divisional Playoff-Dallas Cowboys at Los Angeles Rams Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Cowboys’ interest in CB Byron Jones may not stack up with suitors - Michael Gehlken, Sportsday DFW
Do other teams value Byron Jones more than the Dallas Cowboys?

A bidding war appears imminent for cornerback Byron Jones, but for now, there are no indications the Cowboys are prepared to match the aggressive valuation for his services that external suitors likely will place.

Quarterback Dak Prescott is a lock to remain with the organization in 2020. Wide receiver Amari Cooper is expected to join him. What comes of Jones is far less clear, as the 2015 first-round draft pick is one of 23 other Cowboys players scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on March 18.

Jones should safely command a contract worth $13 million to $15 million in annual value.

Where Byron Jones Might Fit Into Cowboys’ Plans - David Helman, Dallas Cowboys
As the Cowboys look to evaluate many positions at the Senior Bowl, one of them has to be cornerback, where Byron Jones is a free agent and could get the chance to test the market in March.

Now, factor in all the unknowns on the existing roster – such as a Pro Bowl quarterback, wide receiver and cornerback who all need new deals – and it’s clear the Cowboys have their work cut out before the draft picture comes into full view.

”It’s going to be a tough deal,” said vice president of personnel Will McClay on Wednesday. “It’s the NFL. You have your quarterback you have to pay, you have a receiver, you have good players. And when you have good players, you have to figure out how to pay them or how to survive.”

It will be a bit of both. The Cowboys are committed to paying Prescott, as both Jerry and Stephen Jones have repeated on many occasions. Stephen Jones said Tuesday that Cooper’s contract is the Cowboys’ No. 2 priority, after Prescott.

From there, it’s anyone’s guess how the dominoes fall. McClay was asked about Byron Jones’ future with the team, and his answer seemed to suggest that it could be difficult to afford an All-Pro cornerback who is slated for free agency.

Did a Cowboys Executive Just Take a Shot at Free Agent CB Byron Jones? - Jess Haynie, Inside The Star
Is Byron Jones the odd man out in Dallas?

Byron played last year under the 5th-year option from his rookie contract. Now the Cowboys will likely either have to sign him to a long-term deal or use either the franchise or transition tag to keep him.

Maybe I’m reading too much into what Will McClay said, but terms like “starting caliber” and “really good” aren’t the most glowing language about a player. There certainly wasn’t any firm commitment in that statement about keeping Byron Jones with the Cowboys, but rather a hedging comment that they are still deciding if he’s a good fit.

Of course, this may just be a way of negotiating through the media. It happens all the time in sports.

Elite QB Market Another Reason To Pay Dak Prescott Now - Jonny Auping, Dallas Cowboys
Dak Prescott is one of many quarterbacks that will be getting paid soon, the Cowboys would be smart to get this deal done early.

Just as tricky of a determination is needed by teams with quarterbacks who have fared well in the NFL but haven’t shown the consistency to suggest they are a franchise building block. Players like Tennessee’sRyan Tannehill (or the player he replaced as a starter, Marcus Mariota) orTampa Bay’s Jameis Winston or New Orleans’ Teddy Bridgewater or perhaps Washington’s Case Keenum. Will these quarterbacks remain on their respective teams, and if so, how much should reasonably be invested in them?

Prescott, meanwhile, could eventually sign the largest contract of any quarterback this offseason precisely because the Cowboys don’t consider him to be in the same tier as the Tannehill’s and Winston’s of the NFL. All signs point towards him signing a deal that suggests they consider him having a career more similar to Brady and Brees.

This week Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones said Dallas considers working a deal out with Prescott to be “urgent” for the Cowboys in free agency. “That’s our No. 1 priority this offseason,” he said.

'The Unifier': Cowboys Boss Will McClay Explains, 'Our Scouting Process Is Inclusive'- Mike Fisher, Sports Illustrated
Will McClay explains how the Cowboys come to their decisions in the scouting process.

“Our process is inclusive,” McClay said this week at the Senior Bowl. “We want to get everybody together and hear everyone’s opinion. At the end of the day, Jerry makes the decision, but coaches have input, scouts have input. That’s why we feel like our process is very good because anybody that’s been around them, that knows more about them and knows what they’re putting them into, if you pull all that stuff together, we’ve got a chance to build a good team.”

“We talk about the talent that we have, if we don’t get to where we’re going, that talent’s not good enough,” McClay said. “We have to keep trying to get that better. The execution and the use of the talent, all those things, we have to get better at. But I think we’re going to try to build a strong team with depth and looking for those positions that make an impact on the roster, and we need our impact players to make impact plays.”

Amari Cooper Says Free Agency Won’t Be ‘All About Money’ - Blake Schuster, Bleacher Report
Amari Cooper says that his deal with the Cowboys will not be all about the money.

“I don’t think it’s all about money,” Cooper said Thursday, per NFL.com’s Nick Shook. “If you’re a highly touted free agent, you’re going to get paid a lot of money no matter where you go. Is it worth it to go somewhere that you probably don’t want to go as far as, you might be a guy like me who’s from South Florida who’s never played a game in the snow?

”Is it worth a million dollars more a year or $2 million more a year, especially if you’re taking care of your money investment-wise, is it worth that two being in an environment that you don’t want to be in? Or would you like to stay somewhere in the south? It’s not all about money.”

That’s seemingly music to the ears of executives for Dallas—which plays in a dome and in the south.

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper doesn’t want to rush his new contract - RJ Ochoa, Blogging The Boys
Cooper loves Dallas but is super casual about contract negotiations.

These deals are so big that Stephen Jones recently referred to Prescott and Cooper as the team’s number one and two priorities, respectively, this offseason. We are going to hear a lot about them and their contractual status over the next few weeks.

Amari Cooper is currently at the Pro Bowl (he doesn’t look too excited to be there) and NFL Network’s Jane Slater caught up with him. Of course the subject of his contract came up and Cooper said that he hasn’t really discussed it with his agent and that he wants to take his time.

What is Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper's worth for a new deal? - Todd Archer, ESPN
Has Amari Cooper's value changed at all for the Cowboys as they look to re-sign him this offseason?

And it brings up this question as Cooper looks to hit unrestricted free agency in March: What is he worth?

Before the 2019 season started, the thought of Cooper, 25, making $18 million per season behind Julio Jones’ $22 million a season with the Atlanta Falcons and Michael Thomas’ $19.25 million a season with the New Orleans Saints appeared to be the right price. Maybe even $18.5 million.

With how Cooper started the season, it looked like the price tag might go even higher. Through nine games, he had 53 receptions for 848 yards and seven touchdowns, putting him on pace for a season that would likely land him in a neighborhood occupied only by Michael Irvin, Terrell Owens and Dez Bryant in franchise history.

Report: Leon Lett to remain on Mike McCarthy’s staff in Dallas- Todd Brock, Cowboys Wire
Mike McCarthy won't completely clean house as he’s reportedly retaining assistant defensive line coach and former player Leon Lett.

Building maintenance crews at The Star in Frisco have a ton of new nameplates to make and attach to the doors of the coaches’ offices at team headquarters. But it looks like they’ll be able to recycle at least one more.

According to reports, Leon Lett will remain with the team under new head coach Mike McCarthy. Having previously specialized in working with defensive tackles, he is expected to be listed with the Cowboys as an assistant defensive line coach in 2020. It will mark Lett’s tenth season on the Dallas coaching staff.