DALLAS — It takes a big man to admit when he’s wrong, especially when that man is responsible for decisions for one of the most famous sports franchises in the world. Yet, that’s exactly what Dallas Cowboys’ Executive Vice President Stephen Jones did in a recent interview regarding contract negotiations with star quarterback Dak Prescott.
Jones, who is now the chief negotiator for the Cowboys and rigid in his beliefs when it comes to player worth, has long been the target for fans ire when it comes to contracts. The inability of Jones to sign some of the most important Cowboys in recent years is something that has angered the fan base on more than a few occasions.
In the interview with KXAS-TV, Jones owned up to some regrets during his time with the Cowboys, including the Prescott negotiations. “Probably would have signed Dak the first time around,” he said with a big laugh, “and it would have been better for everybody.”
Admitting that he messed up with Prescott’s contract negotiations is a surprising confession. Perhaps it’s a way to curry some favor back with Cowboys backers who would agree with the sentiment.
Jones is finally coming around to what everyone already knew. Getting Prescott inked two offseasons ago, before having to use the franchise tag on him, would’ve been the best decision for the team. When Jones uses the words “better for everybody,” one of things he’s talking about is the amount of money the Cowboys could’ve saved.
By waiting, Jones let too many quarterbacks get new deals and that pushed the cost of signing Prescott higher than Jones anticipated. During the time it took to get Prescott’s new contract completed, draft class mates Jared Goff and Carson Wentz got new deals, Russell Wilson inked an extension that made him the highest paid QB in the league, and then came the mega deal with Patrick Mahomes.
The result of those deals caused the price for QBs to skyrocket, which wasn’t a shock to anyone, except maybe Jones. That’s how contracts work with quarterbacks in the NFL. When you find one that is a franchise cornerstone, you have to pay the going rate to keep them.
Waiting also cost the Cowboys money because Prescott continued to get better and placed himself amongst the best quarterbacks in the league.
Another thing Jones’ comment pointed out was that if the team could’ve gotten a deal with Prescott earlier, and cheaper, then they could’ve had more salary cap flexibility to sign/re-sign more players. As many fans have postulated, there’s a chance that, for example, cornerback Byron Jones could have returned if Prescott’s deal had been finished sooner.
Even if the team had decided to move away from Jones at CB, they would’ve had more free agency money to use to improve the team. Instead, Stephen Jones used Prescott’s contract uncertainty as a reason for being sheepish about signing higher quality players each offseason.
None of this is news, of course. Fans and pundits alike knew that waiting to sign Prescott was going to cost Jones more money and hamper the team’s ability to make the Cowboys better. Yet, here we are two offseasons later and millions of dollars the team could’ve used to upgrade the team from the last two years are now the going rate for the quarterback.
Ultimately, the deal got done but it came with the Cowboys acquiescing to nearly all of Prescott’s demands only at a much steeper price. Prescott got the shorter length that he was after (four years), the high signing bonus ($66 million), a large guarantee ($126 million), an impressive total ($160 million), and the league’s second highest annual salary ($40 million, behind Mahomes’ $45 million per season).
When Jones says it might have been better for everyone if Prescott had been signed earlier, it likely doesn’t include Prescott himself despite the inherent risk that comes with playing football. That risk nearly manifested when Prescott went down with a season-ending broken ankle last October but rather than halt contract talks, the Cowboys got a taste of life without their top-tier signal caller which only served to increase his leverage.
Nevertheless, it’s a nice gesture that Jones can admit that he made a mistake with Prescott’s contract and that he regrets how it played out. Hopefully it’s a lesson learned for Jones and the Cowboys.
Are you happy with how things turned out with Dak Prescott’s contract extension? Share your thoughts with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.