Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said the team is “off and running” in contract talks with quarterback Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper, and Jones also mentioned the desire to sign Ezekiel Elliott to an extension, Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas reports.
The talks have been mostly preliminary so far without much back and forth, but the Cowboys have made it known that they want to keep all three for the long term.
Jones said he will have a word of caution for Prescott, Cooper and Elliott, just as he did for DeMarcus Lawrence before the two-time Pro Bowl defensive end signed a five-year, $105 million deal last month.
“As I told DeMarcus Lawrence, and I’ll tell all three of these guys: I’d love for you to max out and give you exactly what you want, because y’all have worked hard and you deserve to have a big contract. But if we want to put together the type of team we want to have with the Cowboys …” Jones said Wednesday at the team’s annual sponsor’s golf tournament at Cowboys Golf Club.
“That’s not their job. It’s not their job to manage the cap; I understand that. But it is my job and [owner Jerry Jones’] job, so they will understand why we’re negotiating hard to make the very best deal we can. Because the money, if we can talk them into not maxing out — doing well, but not maxed — then that allows us to have other good football players around them.”
Prescott and Cooper are in the final year of their contracts. Prescott, a fourth-round pick in 2016, is set to make a little more than $2 million in 2019. Cooper is set to make $13.9 million on the fifth-year option of his deal.
Contract extensions for both players figure to be at or near the top of the players at their position, with Prescott looking at roughly $30 million per season and Cooper anywhere from $16 million to $18 million.
Two weeks ago, the Cowboys picked up the 2020 option on Elliott’s contract at $9.09 million.
“Zeke, as we all know, he’s such an important player to this organization,” Stephen Jones said. “He’s a guy that we want to have here long term. The only reason you say, ‘Well, maybe he’s not at the front, front [of the list],’ is because he’s got this year, then he’s got another year at his tender.
“These things can take time. But Zeke’s every bit as important, and then you start going down the line, whether it’s a Byron Jones, a La’el Collins, and these guys coming up, Jaylon Smith. I mean these are all players that we’ll need to address at some point in time, and they’re all players that we’ve drafted, that we’ve developed, that we think are the right kind of guys that play our defense, play our offense the way we want to play. Certainly guys we want to keep. It’s a great problem to have because we do have good young football players, but it’s also a challenge.”
Jones hopes the players can see the bigger picture of what it means to play for the Cowboys now and for their futures, alluding to ex-players who have moved into television careers — Troy Aikman, Tony Romo, Michael Irvin, Deion Sanders, Daryl Johnston and Darren Woodson.
“You look at the TV booths, and you look at what these players do off the field,” Jones said. “If we can put Super Bowl rings on these guys, then they’ll be legends around this area for many, many, many years to come. What they give up a little bit in their contract, they should be able to invest in being a Cowboy and making our teams better.