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All Eyes Return To Cooper, Dak Contracts


ARLINGTON, Texas – It's hard to get solid answers in a situation with so much uncertainty, but Jerry Jones was clear about one thing.

As Cowboys owner/general manager, he's got some high profile players to retain this offseason. And he has every intention of doing that.

"We've got some guys on here that I'm really proud of what they gave us this year," Jones said. "And a lot of them that aren't necessarily signed, I plan on getting them signed."

Most of that scrutiny is naturally going to center on Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper. With the 2019 season concluded, both players are officially out of contract and will require new deals.

Having watched Prescott throw for 303 yards and four touchdowns against Washington, Jones said he felt more confident in his fourth-year quarterback than he did before the season.

"More. I think that he's had this campaign and this has been a hard one, very hard one, and obviously he's played through things just like he has these last couple of weeks," Jones said. "I don't blame that on how we have played, but still he has played through things."

Prescott finished his season with 30 passing touchdowns, and his 300-yard day put him at 4,902 yards on the season – just one yard shy of Tony Romo's franchise record of 4,903 yards back in 2012.

"It really breaks my heart that Dak didn't get that record — by what, a yard? A yard," Jones said. "I would've gone out there and run a route for him at that time to get that yard. He deserves that."

The quarterback did not agree, given the disappointing nature of the Cowboys' finish to the season.

"I didn't make the playoffs and I deserve to be second," he said. "I don't play the game for stats. I play the game to win. So I'm OK with being there, being one yard short of him."

All of that is going to factor into the conversation about Prescott's next contract. The speculation swirled endlessly all through the lead-up to the 2019 season, complete with reports that he was seeking $40 million per season, as well as what the Cowboys' counter offers.

That talk stopped, for the most part, once the games started. But with Prescott now headed for free agency – or the franchise tag, most likely – he can expect it to ramp back up.

"I never thought about the contract this season and I haven't thought about it," Prescott said. "I have a great team of people that will handle that when those talks come. When it happens, it happens."

This exact narrative, more or less, could apply to Cooper. The fifth-year wide receiver has now reached the end of his rookie contract after being traded from Oakland last season.

It's fair to point out that he scored just one touchdown over the final seven weeks of the season. But he finished the year with 79 catches for 1,189 yards, giving him back-to-back 1,000-yard campaigns – not to mention 15 touchdowns in 27 games with the team.

When Jones was asked whether he wants to re-sign Cooper, he put it as simply as he could.

"The answer is yes to that," he said.

The reality is obviously much more complicated. Negotiations will begin again at some point, and both contracts figure to be sizable storylines in 2020. But in reflecting on a disappointing present, Jones seemed to feel optimistic about the future.

"We've got a good base of players," he said. "I don't want to be trite when I say it, that includes Dak, that includes Amari, that includes Sean Lee, that we can have some great days with the Cowboys."