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Mailbag: Why not play hardball with contracts?


I'm tired of the Cowboys being wishy-washy in these contract negotiations. They drag their feet and then wind up paying even more in the end. Why not play hardball? CeeDee Lamb is already under contract for this season and they can use the franchise tag on him for the next two years after that. If he and his agent are going to play games or not negotiate in good faith, then he can sit out and lose money. Don't the Cowboys have to stop this ridiculous cycle?Richard Gaines/Oklahoma City, OK

Patrik: Oh, Richard. There's a lot to unpack in your very emotional response to a very normal thing in this business, but I'll push the socks and shirts in your luggage out of the way and get right to the pants here. In case you missed it while you were typing, you literally just described them playing hardball. Dragging feet, as you labeled it, is a form of hardball. Otherwise, they'd just set the market every single time without negotiating. Isn't that what led them to two franchise tags on Dak Prescott and two franchise tags on DeMarcus Lawrence? I could go on here showing you that they're already doing what you're demanding they do, and they've been doing it for years, which creates situations like holdouts as an eventual symptom (also, have you looked around the league at holdouts or …?), and then you get irate at the symptom of the thing you demanded they do and keep doing. So, again, the Cowboys have long played hardball, so if that's what you want(ed), grab a rake and help with all of the "falling leaves" — gleefully. Otherwise, what you actually are is just upset it takes so much to get deals done in Dallas, and that means you're inherently tired of them playing hardball and would rather not have to deal with holdouts at all. Good talk.

Nick Harris: I mean, you could make the argument that the Cowboys are in this situation because they have been playing hardball. Continuing to do that runs the risk of CeeDee holding out of the season, and then no one is done any favors after that if the Cowboys decide to franchise tag him. The two sides are going to have to come together on a number sooner rather than later, and I'm still confident that it gets done. The two sides have negotiated in good faith, but both are still trying to get the number that best works for each side.

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