With the Cowboys having extended running back Ezekiel Elliott, focus now turns to quarterback Dak Prescott and wideout Amari Cooper. The Cowboys are hopeful that they can complete deals by Sunday’s season opener, although executive vice president Stephen Jones seemed a bit more cautious in his optimism.
“Don’t ever say never,” Jones said (via ESPN’s Todd Archer). “The season doesn’t start until Sunday. We still got three or four days here. Obviously we’ve ended up signing a few players we didn’t necessarily know we were going to sign, but at the same time, I certainly felt optimistic that we can get these guys. Whether it’s by the start of the season or if it goes over that, it does. That was our goal. Sometimes you don’t get it quite done on the exact timing that you had hoped, but obviously the ultimate goal is to get them signed.”
Prescott also expressed some hope that a deal would get done, but he also acknowledged that his entire focus is on this weekend’s contest against the Giants.
“Obviously I want to see it done,” Prescott said. “To put a time frame on it, I think I’ve said this before, I’m not going to do that. At this point my focus is all on the Giants and the Giants defense and what this team needs to do to win the game. And next week it will roll to the next opponent. I don’t want to blur my mind or distract myself any with thinking about those talks or thinking about what’s going on when I’ve got enough on my plate to handle. So I’m just focused on the Giants and I’ve got people to take care of [the contract].”
Let’s check out some more notes out of Dallas…
- As David Moore of the Dallas News points out, the Cowboys have handed out more than $300MM ($185.5MM guaranteed) to four players over the past five months: Elliott, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, linebacker Jaylon Smith, and offensive lineman La’el Collins. Now, the front office has to fit Prescott and Cooper into their budget, but Moore sounds confident that the organization will get the duo signed thanks to Jerry Jones’ willingness to take risks. Ultimately, the owner doesn’t want a repeat of last season, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to optimize the 2019 squad.
- The Cowboys were granted a roster exemption for Elliott that will expire on September 16th, tweets NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. This means the team doesn’t have to make room for the running back on the active roster until that date, although they can still carry only 46 players on game day.
- Rapoport also tweets that the Cowboys aren’t concerned about Elliott’s preseason absence. The 24-year-old already has 868 career carries, an indicator that he’s plenty familiar with the offense. Ultimately, the team was confident that whenever the running back showed up, he’d be ready to go.
- ESPN’s Mike Tannenbaum observes (on Twitter) that the Cowboys only gave Elliott a $7.5MM signing bonus, which is a far cry from Todd Gurley‘s $21MM signing bonus. That means the rest of the running back’s $42.55MM can be voided if he’s hit with another suspension. Ultimately, the Cowboys got protection in case of any off-field issues, but they also are willing to pay Elliott as long as he stays out of trouble. Meanwhile, Albert Breer of TheMMQB tweets that the Cowboys effectively gave Elliott a fully-guaranteed deal through four years, which is pretty unprecedented for the position.