Chris Jones Happy, Excited To Have Long-Term Future Secured

OXNARD, Calif. – Chris Jones is a man of few words – which makes for quite a scene when a dozen reporters ask him for an interview.

Of course, that doesn't happen often to the Cowboys' punter. But considering he signed a four-year contract extension on Wednesday afternoon, it was an obvious exception.

"I can't thank the Jones Family and the organization enough," Jones said. "Happy to be here, love this team, love all the guys. I'm just looking forward to the season now."

Jones was getting ready to enter into a contract year. Instead, he's secured through the long-term, with the value of the deal reported at about $8.7 million with $4.5 million in guarantees.

It's not exactly a surprising move, given Jones' expertise in the punting game over the last four years. Since taking control of the job in 2013, he has averaged a solid 45.4 yards per punt. Even better than that total has been his ability to negate the return game.

Last year, Jones averaged 45.9 yards per punt, with a net average of 40.5 – meaning opponents were averaging just five yards per attempt against him. On top of that, 25 of his 58 punts – or roughly 43 percent – were downed inside the opponent's 20-yard line.

"He's been very impactful on our team since he's been our punter," said Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. "I think he's getting better and better and better."

It had long been suspected that the Cowboys might arrange a new deal with Jones. The team just extended La'el Collins, and there is an expectation that the front office will soon reach a hefty agreement with All-Pro guard Zack Martin. But re-signing a punter isn't quite the same type of financial commitment.

"You know, as soon as I learned that there was cap space and that kind of stuff, it kind of crept in my mind just a little bit," Jones said. "Is it going to happen? Is this what they're thinking? Thankfully enough, it did."

Jones didn't go as far as to say he was concerned about securing a new contract, but it is one less thing he'll have to worry about heading into the 2017 season.

"I won't say it was a worry factor, it's just good to have it – is the main thing," he said. "It's a blessing, for sure."

Instead, he can focus on maintaining what has been an incredibly high standard for special teams in Dallas. The Cowboys are an NFL rarity in the sense that all three of their core specialists – Jones, Dan Bailey and L.P. Ladouceur – are long-tenured pros who have signed multiple contracts with the team.

Jones said the impact of keeping all three components of the kicking game together can't be underestimated.

"Personally, I think it's huge," he said. "We've worked together now going on seven years, and a battery like that – that's been together that long, that works as efficiently and as well as we do together – you can't compare with that. That's off the charts."

With the contract out of the way, it's safe to say Cowboys fans can expect to see Jones booming punts for the foreseeable future. Whether he continues to lowering the boom on punt returners, like he did last season against Detroit, remains to be seen.

"At the end of the day, that's not what you're going for," he said. "But I'll always be back there if it comes up."

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