OXNARD, Calif. – When Jerry Jones talks, everybody listens.
Following Tuesday night’s practice, the Cowboys’ owner/general manager stopped to chat with reporters, touching on contract talks and other tidbits from around training camp.
As is often the case, Jones covered a lot of ground in a little amount of time.
Here are the highlights of his media session:
Is Jones concerned that the Cowboys haven’t appeared to make significant progress in talks with Ezekiel Elliott as the Pro Bowl running back continues to hold out of training camp? “Not really. Not at all,” Jones said. “Zeke has the ability to just completely hit the ground running, if I may use that. He has that, and we expect that. He says it, and I believe him, that he’s in great shape. So I don’t think that’ll be an issue when he does come back. In the meantime, we have to be ready to go without him and we’re getting that way.”
Jones was asked if the Cowboys were any closer to a deal with Dak Prescott. “You don’t have any way of knowing where you are financially until a financial deal is done,” he said. “And so you have no idea. It takes two, and both of us haven’t said yes at the same time.” Jones also reiterated that the team isn’t focused on contracts that other players around the league get. “I’m not dealing in the market, I’m dealing with how to fit this team together. And so, if I’m listening to advice, it’s how to get all of these top players under the cap. And so I don’t have the responsibility of dealing with the market.”
Jones has said all offseason that the Cowboys don’t have a particular pecking order in negotiating new deals with their top players. Aside from the top three in the universal discussion – Prescott, Amari Cooper and Elliott – Jones also offered this: “Would it be better if we can get one of the players done (before the season) than to not have any done of the ones you’re talking about? The answer is yes. What may surprise you is we may come up with one that you haven’t been asking about.”
Who, exactly? Jones didn’t specify. But several other starters, including Byron Jones, La’el Collins, Maliek Collins and Jaylon Smith, are currently set to be either unrestricted or restricted free agents after the 2019 season.
Could negotiations with Prescott, Cooper and Elliott extend into the season? Jones said he’s comfortable with that scenario if necessary. “No one has said they wouldn’t be willing to,” Jones said.
Jones has repeated several times that he’s not worried about the health of Cooper, who has been out of practice with what has been referred to as a heel bruise.
“It’s not a soft tissue issue or not a sprain, so I think we’ll – by all accounts – have him back out there pretty soon,” he said.
With several weeks remaining in the preseason, the Cowboys aren’t interested in rushing their Pro Bowl receiver back to the field. Cooper has yet to practice this week, and it seems unlikely he’d play against the Rams on Saturday. But Jones is just the latest official to reiterate that there’s no cause for concern.
Anyone who follows the Cowboys knows that Jerry Jones has a way with words, as he has demonstrated countless times over the years. In talking about the challenge of negotiating three large contracts, he added another memorable phrasing to the lexicon.
Let’s try to set the scene here a bit. Jones was asked specifically about the number of players to be negotiated with, not to mention the vast amount of money in question. Here was his analogy for the situation he finds himself in:
“Picture if you were the driver of a car, and you had a wreck and your hand was almost severed off, but you didn’t understand your anatomy. You look down, you’re spurting blood, you open the door and run to the woods and either die of bleeding to death or shock. The educated man looks down, knows his anatomy, squeezes and knows his best chance is to wait for help. That’s because he’s been there a lot and done that. And so I’m squeezing and waiting for help. That’s my lesson for today.”
If you can get past the mental image of all the spurting blood, Jones’ point feels pretty obvious. It feels like a call for patience. As drastic as all of the contract news sounds on the surface, it’ll undoubtedly resolve itself. Jones makes a good point that there’s no sense panicking, especially with the regular season still roughly a month away.
That was still a heck of a unique way of explaining the situation, though.