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Jerry Jones speaks on 'all-in' offseason at combine


INDIANAPOLIS — Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones met with reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Friday evening and spoke for over 42 minutes on topics ranging from the offseason "all-in" approach, conversations about Dak Prescott's potential contract extension, the impending free agency and much more ahead of a two-month period that will define what the team looks like in 2024.

Here are the highlights from that conversation.

What Does 'All-In' Mean?

Jones made headlines at the Senior Bowl one month ago when he said that the Cowboys would be going "all-in" this next season and not plan for the future as they have done in the past. When asked for more clarification on what that approach looks like this offseason, Jones said it will be making the team look a bit different than it did in years past.

"We will be working on different players and drafting different people," Jones said. "Just the very nature of it is different. Different people, we have different coaches. I think the attention that our nuances of where we are with the cap, the nuances of where we are with our position in the draft, the nuances of where we are with our free agents – we get that involved with the definition of being 'all-in.' When you look at those aspects, we will be looking at every solution towards winning this year."

Dak Extension Talks Are Ongoing

Stephen Jones would not confirm earlier in the week if the Cowboys and Dak Prescott's representation were working towards a contract extension, but Jerry Jones did confirm that piece on Friday

"We'll be working on his contract as we get into the future days of this coming year. What we do there, don't do, I couldn't say at this time. The main thing is that he's going to be our quarterback…I've got my mind – all-in – on what we can do this year to be as successful as it can be. One of the reasons I feel good about it is because Dak is for sure our quarterback."

Mike Zimmer Bringing 'No BS'

One of the key traits that has been bounced around since the hiring of Mike Zimmer is that he brings a sense of sternness and accountability that translates into him expecting the best out of his defense at any given moment. When asked about Zimmer, Jones offered similar sentiments.

"His whole life is football," Jones said. "The people that know Mike Zimmer and the players that know him – Deion, guys like that, you name them, Pacman Jones. All the guys, they left us and went with him to Cincinnati. That tells you well enough. He's there, but he's no bulls*. Boy, he's straight talking. It's not with anybody. It's not out of character doing that at all."

Is Gallup in Future Plans?

With a potential out in wide receiver Michael Gallup's contract looming with a post-June 1 cut from the team, a decision has to be made this offseason on if his declining production is worth keeping at the current price of his contract. This is what Jones had to say on the 2018 third-round pick.

"We don't have a decision that we would like to talk about right now. It's one we will be going over with him, but nothing that we would say independently without him being involved. We need to sit down and go over his stuff with him before we talk about what we're going to do."

LVE's Future Still in Question

Jones said he met with the representation of linebacker Leighton Vander Esch today, as the 2018 first-round pick's decision looms on whether he will return to the game of football after suffering a scary neck injury against the San Francisco 49ers last October.

"I met with [his agent] today, saw him today," Jones said. "As far as his career is concerned, it's divorced from my mind. It's divorced from a decision of football. In his case, football is a big part of his life and his professional life and his career. It has to do with his long-term well-being and long-term life. We're not only going to support whatever he comes up with, we're going to, when we visit and talk, it will be with the sensitivity of somebody you think a lot about."

Camp Battle Brewing at QB2

Jones confirmed that the team has picked up quarterback Trey Lance's fourth-year roster bonus on Friday, as he discussed the mass improvements that Lance has made since arriving in Dallas last August. In his evaluation of Lance, he said there will be a competition at training camp next season between Lance and Cooper Rush for the backup quarterback spot.

"Arrow is really up," Jones said of Lance. "He's exceeded expectations as a person, as a worker, as a character. He's got unique skills. He's very much what we had planned on, hoped. When we gave the [fourth-round] pick, we knew we'd be paying the [fourth-year] bonus right now. That was a part of the same decision. That's been reinforced with what he's been for the team and the person he is, potentially the player."

No Ruling Out of a Smith Return

Future Hall of Fame left tackle Tyron Smith is set to hit free agency this month, as Jones met with his representation in Indianapolis and has the door open for a return for 2024 and potentially beyond for his 2011 first-round pick.

"We'll get in there in the right way and discuss his business and work out something that's good for both of us," Jones said. "He's had a great career. He's a Hall of Fame player…I can't tell you how good a shape I thought we were in with him as we got into the playoffs, and his health and where he was. Thought we were just where you want to be, and I gave a lot of credit to coach Mike McCarthy, him getting it pushed up there to where we had him just right as we went into the playoffs."

Does RB Picture Include Pollard?

Tony Pollard is another big name set to hit free agency this offseason, and it comes with Jerry Jones and multiple front office personnel emphasizing the need to run the football better in 2024. While part of that need does include Pollard improving, Jones also has pointed to changes that can be made up front. He did mention how he felt Pollard played well towards the end of the season in 2023.

"I think Pollard played well," Jones said. "He's someone that I would have thought would have had more impact for us in the games we didn't play well in. But that running game of course, a product of not only the back, but the blocking and the complete offense. When I look at him – I have done that with our coaches and I have done that with our scouts – he played well."

Bigger Bodies on Defense

When talking to vice president of player personnel Will McClay on Thursday, he emphasized the need for bigger bodies on the defensive side of the ball this offseason, and those sentiments were echoed by Jones in respect to what Mike Zimmer will bring to the Dallas defense.

"We got thin at linebacker and we probably tried to, because of our availability of an alternative, we got read pretty good by the opponent and they did a good job on us with the run game," Jones said. "An assessment of what happened to us gives you the answers. You need to not get as thin at linebacker and what you need to be emphasizing with the linebackers is helping stop the run."

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