FRISCO, Texas – Ain't training camp grand.
And you thought when the Cowboys returned from the West Coast, via Hawaii, camp was over.
The two-day continuation here has been loaded. Loaded with talk of "pie." Loaded with "the right to joke." A new contract out of the blue. And a holdout now stretching 27 days and counting.
And now I'm going to throw another term at you, economic sanctions, and I had to go all the way to Honolulu to grab some perspective on this.
See, was having dinner Friday night with a good friend, his wife and high school-aged daughter while watching fireworks over the Honolulu Marina when talk of Zeke's holdout came up. While explaining how a continued holdout into the season, meaning missing regular-season games, was inconceivable to me since each one is worth $224,000 to Ezekiel Elliott, equivalent to the one-seventeenth portion of his $3.85 million base salary.
The young lady's eye-widened, and my friend's daughter says, "That's like being able to buy a new Ferrari every week."
Good economics there, and see, to this point of the holdout, Zeke and agent Rocky Arceneaux basically have not lost a red cent while angling for a new deal with still two years on his contract by withholding services during training camp, that is if the Cowboys don't hold his checkbook to the fire for the fines the CBA says they can enforce.
But once the regular season begins, the Cowboys will levy economic sanctions against Zeke. Meaning, no $224,000 paycheck for each game missed. We'll see how committed they then are to this cause.
Over this whole deal, though, let this be instructive to anyone listening out there, no matter if you are siding with Zeke's desire to be paid more or the Cowboys' side of minding the cap. For here is what Jerry had to say after Tuesday's press conference to announce Jaylon Smith's five-year extension:
"I have never equivocated on Zeke's (talent), the quality of player he is and his importance to us. So I don't equivocate on that at all. The team takes precedence over that is my judgment. The team takes precedence at a point over the opinion or demand of the individual. The team takes precedence. (Jaylon's contract) was a team move we were talking about today – a real team move.
"The team takes precedence, and I got the backbone to keep it that way."
Now there's an opening shot.
- Here's The Deal: So it took less than a day for the inside numbers to Smith's new contract to be unveiled. What was being termed as a five-year, $64 million extension, with $35.5 million guaranteed, actually is a seven-year, $69 million package, with $35.5 million still guaranteed, along with a $5 million signing bonus. That then averages out to $9.85 million over seven years. Also, the Cowboys own a potential out on the contract after three years, where Jaylon would earn $26.206 million if the Cowboys were willing to eat $6.8 million in salary cap dead money. Plus, all the guarantees expire following the 2022 season, thus the $35.4 million guaranteed. Remember, this is a five-year extension on his current 2019 contract, and the Cowboys included a bump in pay for 2020, guaranteeing him what he conceivably would have been paid had they given him a first-round restricted free agency tender. So Jaylon basically gets his guarantees, a $5 million signing bonus and a significant raise two years early. All this only costs the Cowboys an extra $500,000 against the 2019 salary cap. So look, there is "pie" left for Zeke, Dak and Amari.
- Speaking Of Amari: The Cowboys' Pro Bowl wide receiver was trying to explain the foot injury to the media on Tuesday, but evidently, Wade Phillips was right when he used to say, "Listening is a skill." Cooper was saying his injury was "similar" to the plantar fasciitis injury he suffered a few years back that he played with. He wasn't saying that's what he has in his heel. The correct medical term is an "intrinsic muscle strain," which is located on the side of the heel. That very small muscle is responsible for controlling the inflection of the little toe. He's confident, and so are the trainers, he will be ready for the start of the season.
- History Lesson: Jerry Jones was very understandably joking when he uttered his now infamous "Zeke who?" remark following the Cowboys' 14-10 preseason victory over the Rams at Aloha Stadium on Saturday. But Zeke's agents chose to make a big deal of that, accusing Jerry of disrespecting their client. Of course, that provoked the question for Jerry on Tuesday about what he thought of that remark. I could see it in Jerry's eyes, he was PO-ed to even have to address that, saying very sternly as you know, "Look . . . look . . . look . . . I've earned the right with Zeke to joke. Period. I've earned that right. Let me be clear, I've earned that right." Should not poke the bear. And remember that happening back in 1990 when Emmitt Smith's agents at the time, Richard Howell and Pat Dye Jr. were involved in a contentious rookie contract negotiation for the first-round pick with Jones. Telling you, beware his wrath, believe me.
- Star Shots: On a greener note, the new outdoor grass practice field being reinstalled out here to make room for construction of the adjacent Dr Pepper headquarters at The Star has been completed. Looks like a fine field. Already really green. Most the Cowboys have done on the new field so far is walk-throughs . . . The third of three training camp practices scheduled for this week at The Star in Ford Center is scheduled for 11:15 a.m. Thursday . . . One of my Players To Watch on Saturday's Countdown To Kickoff was wide receiver Devin Smith. I'd advise to continuing watching . . . While competing in a two-minute drill Wednesday, the scenario down three with 1:02 to play, the Cowboys' first-team offense was facing a second-and-5 at the 7 with just 10 seconds to play when Dak Prescott tried to fit in a tight pass in back of the end zone to Jason Witten that Joe Thomas picked off. Afterward while chatting in the locker room Dak said he should have thrown that at the crossbar, meaning away. Hope he thought I, too, was joking when I said, "No, you should have thrown it into the second row." He smiled, hopefully I've earned the right to joke with Dak.
Some two days back. And who knows what tomorrow shall bring.