IRVING, Texas – Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said he hasn't tabled Dez Bryant's contract situation until the end of the year, but it isn't his top priority with the 2014 season underway.
"We are certainly concentrating on several other things," Jones said in an interview with 105.3 The Fan on Friday morning. "That's there – that's not hard to be thinking about as we move along through the season, but I really don't think that it's a priority, a daily priority, as opposed to getting ready to play in Nashville or getting ready to play a football game in the season."
Bryant told reporters before the start of the regular season that he didn't want to talk about his expiring contract once the season began – preferring to focus on the football field. A first-round draft pick in 2010, he's playing out the last year of his rookie deal for $1.78 million this season.
Contract talks with the 2013 Pro Bowler, who is widely considered one of the best young receivers in the league, have been a topic of constant discussion through the offseason.
Jones' comment that it's not hard to think about that contract situation seem to leave some wiggle room for discussions during the season. But he reiterated that the focus has shifted with the Cowboys now into the grind of the 16-game schedule.
"I think that's what it says more than anything, is that the priority now that we're in the games are certainly shifted toward being ready to play, practicing, getting ready to play this coming weekend," he said.
As an influential figure in the NFL landscape, Jones was also asked for his thoughts on the ongoing Ray Rice incident, in which a video of the running back punching his then-fiancée surfaced, resulting in Rice's indefinite suspension and questioning of the league's internal investigation. [embedded_ad]
"This is of course a matter that we take, I take, very seriously and will continue to do so. This is very troubling," Jones said. "The league has acknowledged its mistakes and has made changes on how a situation like this will be handled in the future. We've just got to recognize it, and are I believe, for the seriousness of the issue."
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said this week that he hadn't seen the video in question during the league's determination of Rice's initial punishment, a two-game suspension. That assertion has been called into question, but Jones backed the commissioner in that regard.
"He said he did not, and I believe him," Jones said. "But the good news is – not good news – but we've opened a real investigation, unfettered investigation, and I think we need to let that show us the results and let it unfold."
Asked if he thought Goodell should be disciplined for the handling of the situation, Jones was again supportive.
"He's been a very good commissioner, and he's acknowledged that he mishandled this," he said. "He said that he'll do better in the future. He can, and I believe him – he will."