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Draft Central | 2024

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Jones speaks on Cowboys contracts: 'We want Dak'


FRISCO, Texas — As the 2024 NFL Draft rapidly approaches, the Cowboys find themselves balancing their big board and the reality of needing to secure current cornerstone talent for the future. That includes Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb and Micah Parsons — effectively dubbed "The Big 3" in Dallas.

So, to put it plainly, what's the holdup?

"We'd like to see more leaves fall," said owner and general manager Jerry Jones, speaking from the team's pre-draft press conference. "We'd like to see more action. It's called option quarterback. I've spent my life [playing] option quarterback. I want to see some more cards played."

In other words, Jones and the Cowboys don't feel they have enough information — be it from the player's side of the negotiation and the market itself — to formulate their offers, understanding fully that conventional wisdom dictates the longer the wait, the more expensive the contract.

All told, the front office in Dallas prefers to move slowly and deliberately.

"When you're talking about big contracts like Dak, CeeDee and Micah, those things don't happen overnight," said executive vice president and director of player personnel Stephen Jones. "Those things take time. There's timing based on what other teams are doing at their position.

"There's a lot of moving parts. Certainly, you wanna get it right. … When you're paying the type of money we ultimately will have to, to keep them, you wanna make sure you get it right."

When asked if the uncertainty on Prescott's future could lead to the Cowboys using a premium pick at quarterback, the elder Jones left absolutely no room for interpretation.

Don't put any bets on Prescott getting replaced by a 2024 NFL Draft pick.

"We want Dak Prescott, and that's that," Jones said firmly.

Prescott reported to Day 1 of the team's voluntary offseason program, but Lamb has yet to do so, and it's unclear if he'll either hold out or hold in to speed up the process of his contract talks, while Parsons is also absent due to reasons unrelated (he is training off-site in the same way he did last spring).

Initially, Prescott voiced 100 percent confidence in stating “it’ll happen” when asked, in March, if he and the Cowboys would ultimately find common ground on a new contract. One month later, his tone shifted a bit, no longer ruling out the possibility of being elsewhere in 2025, while reiterating how he'd love to remain in Dallas.

Speaking from the annual Children's Cancer Fund Gala, a charitable organization he co-chairs with Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman, Prescott was candid in his current outlook.

"I'm focused on the moment — the now," he said. "When talks begin and real talk gets to happening, then we can talk about getting that done but, in this moment, I'm worried about getting better. I'm leaving that up to my agent and Jerry at this point. When those talks begin, I'll be more involved obviously."

That isn't to say Prescott hasn't spoken with the front office at all, but rather to identify that there's not been much traction other than the recent reworking of his deal that provided several million dollars of cap relief to the Cowboys.

"I've talked to Jerry so I understand where we are, obviously," he said. "Jerry's mentioned the same so there's not any gray area in that sense. We had a great conversation that put us aligned and where we are at this moment.

"... I'm not trying to be the highest-paid, necessarily. We'll wait until negotiations begin and I obviously want to put this team in the best situation."

The Joneses aren't putting too much weight on the "talks" aspect of negotiation, though.

"First of all, I respect how Dak handles his business, period, as much as any other person I've been associated with," said Jerry Jones. "I think we should realize that 'talks' are not a barometer of whether you're close to a deal, at all. It might be one of the least.

" … It's a misnomer to think that 'talks' are the total or the beginning of a time clock, or that it has that much to do with signing a player. Those two [things] aren't necessarily the same."

It bears mentioning that the Cowboys were extremely and unexpectedly active last training camp on the contractual front — proactively extending All-Pro cornerback Trevon Diggs while also getting new deals done for other defensive starters, e.g., Donovan Wilson and Malik Hooker, along with starting right tackle Terence Steele.

Time will tell what the timeline is on each of The Big 3, but there's no questioning the Cowboys' want of keeping Prescott, Lamb and Parsons in tow for years to come. That much, the "what", is decidedly clear.

The "when" and "how", however, is anyone's guess.

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