Jerry Jones

Cowboys Notes: Jones, Lawrence, Gathers

As he enters his mid-seventies, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is slowly handing over control of the franchise to his son, Stephen Jones, according to David Moore of the Dallas Morning News. The younger Jones is currently Dallas’ executive vice president, CEO, and director of player personnel, so he’s more than prepared to take on a larger role. Stephen Jones takes a more conservative financial stance than his father, per Moore, which could indicate the Cowboys will have their cap in better order when he eventually takes over. Notably, Stephen pushed the Cowboys to eschew drafting Johnny Manziel in 2014, and lobbied instead to select guard Zack Martin, a win for the club.

  • Free agent guard Xavier Su’a-Filo worked out for the Cowboys on Thursday, tweets Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. A former second-round pick Su’a-Filo spent four years with the Texans before inking a deal with the Titans earlier this year. He didn’t make it through final roster cuts, which is perhaps unsurprising given that he finished as a bottom-three guard in 2017, per Pro Football Focus. Dallas, though, needs depth along the interior of its offensive line given injuries to Zack Martin and Travis Frederick, so Su’a-Filo could be an option for the club.
  • Defensive end Demarcus Lawrence is paying attention to the recent extensions signed by fellow defenders Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack, and said his free agent price is rising correspondingly, per Calvin Watkins of The Athletic (Twitter link). Lawrence will earn $17.143MM under the franchise tender in 2018, but has already said he’s not open to playing on the tag in 2019 (not that he’ll have much of a choice if the Cowboys opt to deploy it again). Now that both Donald and Mack have crossed the $22MM/year threshold, the sky is the limit for Lawrence, who will aim to build on an excellent 2018 campaign that included 14.5 sacks.
  • Further details have emerged regarding tight end Rico Gathers‘ recent arrest for marijuana, as Kate Hairopaulos of the Dallas Morning News details. Gathers was arrested after he and a female companion were discovered smoking in Central Park in Frisco, Texas, and police found 0.078 ounces of marijuana on the former collegiate basketball player. Gathers’ arrest became public on Saturday just prior to roster cutdowns, but Dallas decided to keep him around nevertheless. He could potentially serve a brief league-imposed suspension down the line.

Bryant Would Have Been Open To Pay Cut

The Cowboys dominated the Friday NFL news cycle by releasing Dez Bryant and doing so without offering the acclaimed wide receiver a chance to stay with the team at a reduced rate. That move may have been amendable to Bryant, despite the receiver’s previous comments not appearing to indicate as such.

A first-time free agent, Bryant said in an interview with the NFL Network’s Jane Slater (Twitter link) he would have accepted a pay cut if the Cowboys offered. Dallas did not offer to keep Bryant on a lesser salary. The 29-year-old wideout expected the team to propose a pay cut. While it’s unclear how much of a salary reduction Bryant would have accepted, the Cowboys weren’t interested and made the odd decision to release their all-time leader in touchdown receptions more than a month into free agency.

As part of the five-year, $70MM extension he signed just before the 2015 franchise tag deadline, Bryant was scheduled to make $12.5MM in base salary and comprise $16.5MM of Dallas’ cap this season.

The juncture of this cut came largely because Jerry Jones has long had an affinity for the mercurial pass-catcher, and it took convincing for the team’s top decision-maker to sign off on a release, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (video link).

Jerry Jones, he loved me to death, and I loved him too,” Bryant told Slater.I honestly believe in my heart that this was a hard decision for him. But when it’s five, six guys at a table against one guy, you got to do it.”

Bryant is not making it a secret he’d like to join one of the Cowboys’ top rivals, but ESPN.com’s Chris Mortensen reports (on Twitter) a landing in Philadelphia, Washington or New York does not look especially promising at the moment. The Redskins are not believed to be interested in the ninth-year player.

Being in the division is a huge possibility it’s something that I want,” Bryant said in the interview (Twitter link). “It’s personal. I’m tired of being the scapegoat and I’m going to keep proving that on and off the field.”

It will obviously be more difficult for Bryant to command the type of money he could have had the Cowboys made this move a month ago, but he’s likely to generate some interest soon.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Colin Kaepernick

While a new avenue with the Seahawks has opened up, albeit with a rather significant hiccup early in that process, Colin Kaepernick remains embroiled in a collusion lawsuit with the NFL.

The latest owner deposed in the case, Jerry Jones, has been the most vocal about players standing for the national anthem. As he did for the depositions of Texans owner Bob McNair and Ravens decision-makers Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh, Kaepernick is sitting in on the proceedings, Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com reports. This deposition in Frisco, Texas, is scheduled to last several hours.

Jones is one of many owners scheduled to be deposed in this case. In addition to previously reported members of the deposition list — Patriots owner Robert Kraft, 49ers CEO Jed York and Pete Carroll — Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and Seahawks owner Paul Allen are also on this docket, Robinson reports. The Yahoo reporter notes Jones’ inclusion stems from several factors, among them comments he made about retribution for Cowboys who protested during the anthem and conversations Jones had with President Donald Trump about the NFL’s response to protests during anthems.

The outspoken Dallas owner is among a group of owners who have urged Roger Goodell to end the players’ right to kneel during the playing of the national anthem, and Robinson reports Jones is expected to make another push for this practice to end at the next set of owners’ meetings in May.

This case is not expected to be resolved soon, with Robinson reporting these historic proceedings will likely drag into 2019.

As for a possible Kaepernick/Seahawks agreement, the quarterback’s camp said (video link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com) the Seahawks issued an ultimatum that hinged on Kaepernick kneeling during the anthem. Word out of Seahawks headquarters was that the franchise wanted a firm plan from the 30-year-old passer about how his role in the racial inequality-centered protest movement going forward. Robinson reports the Seahawks were specific regarding the anthem, and that the former Super Bowl starter declined to make a commitment at this time.

The Seahawks saw Michael Bennett become part of this protest movement last season, refusing to stand during the anthem. A 2017 report also indicated Kaepernick would stand for the anthem if he was signed last season. It’s unclear if that stance has changed, but it certainly remains an issue in the passer landing a contract offer. The Seahawks door is not believed to be closed, but the team also has other Russell Wilson backup candidates in mind.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cowboys Meet With Dez Bryant

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has indeed met with veteran receiver Dez Bryant, but the club has not asked him to accept a pay reduction at this point, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Bryant is due a $12.5MM base salary in 2018, and will count for $16.5MM on Dallas’ salary cap. If he’s released, the Cowboys would save $8.5MM but still be on the hook for $8MM in dead money. Dallas could designate the 29-year-old Bryant as a post-June 1 release and in turn save $12.5MM in 2018 space, but that extra room wouldn’t be available until June. As such, it wouldn’t help the Cowboys sign free agents in March.

Bryant has managed to get into the end zone 14 times over the past two seasons, but he hasn’t topped 1,000 yards since the 2014 season. 2017 also marked the first year that Bryant was able to stay healthy for all 16 games since that 2014 season. Bryant only posted 69 receptions and 838 yards, however, which isn’t in line with a salary that makes him the NFL’s eighth-highest-paid wideout.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jerry Jones Reimburses NFL For $2MM+

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has agreed to reimburse the NFL for more than $2MM in legal fees, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The league’s owners said expenses incurred as a result of Jones’ threat to sue the NFL.

“After a hearing with the Commissioner and the Finance Committee, the matter of the reimbursement of legal fees has been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties,” the league said in a statement.

Jones, of course, expressed his unhappiness with the league over commissioner Roger Goodell‘s now-completed contract extension, as well as the NFL’s decision to suspend Cowboys running Ezekiel Elliott for six games following domestic violence accusations. While Jones never actually sued the league, he’s still required to pay for not only his own legal expenses, but those of the NFL, as well. The league’s competition committee warned Jones of such an outcome in a November letter.

Goodell himself met with Jones in Florida on Monday night, reports David Moore of the Dallas Morning News, allowing the Cowboys owner to make his case as to why he shouldn’t be forced to reimburse the league.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Jerry Jones, Landry, Bruce Allen

Clarence E. Hill, Jr. of the Star-Telegram writes that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will testify before commissioner Roger Goodell and other owners at an appeal hearing tomorrow in Palm Beach, Florida. Jones is appealing the commissioner’s decision to assess him more than $2MM in legal fees stemming from the federal court case with Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and Jones’ opposition to Goodell’s contract extension.

As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk observes, the fact that Jones is testifying before Goodell means that Goodell has not exercised his right to designate the appeal to someone else, even though not doing so creates obvious conflict of interest concerns. In Florio’s estimation, Jones has strong arguments against fee-shifting for his threat to sue the league with respect to Goodell’s extension, as he never actually followed through with the threat. His arguments against fee-shifting with respect to the Elliott matter is a different story, as the Cowboys clearly provided substantial assistance to Elliott in his battle with the league.

Florio says Goodell has final and binding power to resolve the amount of legal fees to be paid, but the resolution granting him that power does not expressly grant him the authority to also answer the threshold question of whether club behavior triggered a repayment obligation. Goodell presumably will take the position that he has final say in that regard, too.

As the Goodell v. Jones saga drags on, let’s take a look at several more notes from the NFC:

  • Although the Bears have interest in Dolphins wideout Jarvis Landry, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune does not believe the team should trade for him. Biggs says Landry does not give Chicago the dynamic, speedy playmaker that it needs, and given that, it would cost too much in both dollars and draft capital to land him.
  • Although most mock drafts have the Lions selecting a RB or DE with their first-round draft pick, Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com says the team could target an OLB like Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds to boost its pass rush. Rothstein says the Lions could indeed target a RB with its first draft choice, but it’s a deep class for RBs, and the better value might be found on Day 2.
  • John Keim of ESPN.com says it is unclear whether Redskins team president Bruce Allen is on the hot seat, though Keim believes he should be. Nonetheless, Keim thinks it would take a really bad season, and not just a mediocre one, for Allen to be shown the door.
  • Mike Jurecki of 98.7FM says the Cardinals would like to retain linebacker Josh Bynes as a depth option, but he believes the team will target a linebacker at some point in the draft and/or look to the UDFA market to grab an LB (Twitter link).
  • Earlier today, we took a look at potential QB plans for the Vikings and Giants.

Roger Goodell To Fine Jerry Jones?

Jerry Jones‘ extensive 2017 fight against Roger Goodell about his contract extension looks like it will cost him. Ken Belson of the New York Times reports the commissioner is preparing to fine the Cowboys owner “millions of dollars” for what Goodell deemed an act of sabotage by Jones in attempting derail his extension last year. That and Jones’ ongoing defense of Ezekiel Elliott will lead to this punishment, several sources informed Belson.

This fine will exceed $2MM, Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports (on Twitter). As Mike Florio of PFT notes, the NFL’s Constitution and Bylaws stipulates that the commissioner cannot fine more than $500K for conduct detrimental to the league. However, the NFL is not technically fining Jones, per veteran reporter Ed Werder (Twitter link). Instead, the league is seeking repayment for approximately $2MM in legal expenses relative to his threats to sue the league.Goodell was initially reluctant to take action, but the NFL Finance Committee and other owners are in support of this plan.

Jones threatened to sue the NFL last year over a matter he said stemmed over Goodell’s contract. He hired an attorney and was prepared to sue the six members of the league’s compensation committee in November, and Belson reports the owner attempted to influence NFL officials during Elliott’s case. Belson reports Jones will be ordered to pay the legal fees the compensation committee spent defending itself as well as the legal expenses the NFL spent “defending its decision to suspend Elliott.”

Goodell’s contract went through, with Elliott serving the six-game suspension that Jones and the NFLPA vigorously fought for months. This extensive process left Jones — who once supported a Goodell extension — at intense odds with the commissioner and the Arthur Blank-chaired compensation committee. And this action — foreshadowed, to some degree, late last year — by the league likely won’t quell the animosity any time soon.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Colin Kaepernick’s Collusion Lawsuit

Colin Kaepernick and his legal team have now requested two high-profile individuals be deposed in his collusion lawsuit against the NFL. Jane Goodell, the wife of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, and John Schnatter, the former CEO of Papa John’s pizza, have both been sent deposition requests, according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports and Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com.Colin Kaepernick

Kaepernick has already asked for records, emails, and text messages from Roger Goodell and several other notable NFL executives and coaches — including Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and 49ers owner Jed York — but Jane Goodell is only tangentially related to the league. Her inclusion in the lawsuit is most likely related to an October Wall Street Journal article which detailed Goodell’s use of an anonymous Twitter account to defender her husband from social media criticism.

Schnatter’s involvement in the Kaepernick grievance is also adjacent to the league, as he complained that kneeling NFL players — a form of protest initiated by Kaepernick — was to blame for declining television ratings, and therefore, lackluster pizza sales. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who is also on Kaepernick’s deposition list, owns more than 100 Papa John’s locations and enjoys a close relationship with Schnatter, per La Canfora, who reports Kaepernick’s lawyers want to determine Jones’ role in Schnatter’s comments.

Kaepernick, of course, didn’t play in the NFL in 2017 and has since argued that league owners are conspiring to keep him off the field. The end goal of Kaepernick’s grievance may be to terminate the current collective bargaining agreement (no matter how unlikely that may seem), but he’d been expected to be granted much leeway when questioning NFL owners.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jerry Jones “Feels Good” About Jason Garrett

The Cowboys 2017 season was one of major ups and downs. Though, in the end, America’s team will not be in the postseason after losing to the Seahawks at home on Sunday afternoon. However, that doesn’t mean that owner Jerry Jones has soured on his head coach. Jones made sure to give Jason Garrett a vote of confidence during his postgame comments, reports Todd Archer of ESPN.com.

Jason Garrett (Vertical)

“Just so we’re clear about it, I do understand frustration right after you lose a game that has as much meaningfulness as this ballgame, but I get to look at a lot of different things and have been around a lot of head coaches and coordinators,” Jones said. “I feel good about our head coach.”

Garrett, 51, has been the head coach of the Cowboys since 2010, accumulating a record of 67-55 during his tenure. But on the other hand, he only has two playoff appearances to show for his efforts. In addition, Garrett has not led the team past the divisional round, despite being the number one overall seed in the NFC last year.

However, Garrett was without his star running back Ezekiel Elliott for six games during the stretch run of the season. So while the loss does hurt, especially considering that the team had rallied for three straight wins in the weeks prior, the team is still young and returns many of its key players in 2018.

It would seem like Jones is intent on keeping Garrett at the helm for at least another year, but the pressure will be on if the Cowboys continue to underperform with him at the controls.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Cowboys, Jones, Giants, Webb

A look at the NFC East:

  • When speaking to reporters at Wednesday’s meetings, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones hinted that he wants to dial back the power of the commissioner’s office (Twitter link via Ben Volin of The Boston Globe). “There’s nobody that doesn’t see the need for changes in the NFL in several areas. … One of it is an antiquated constitution, an antiquated situation as to the power of his commissioner,” Jones said.
  • Giants interim GM Kevin Abrams says he would like to see rookie Davis Webb get some playing time down the stretch (Twitter link via Paul Schwartz of the New York Post). However, he added that “you can only play one quarterback at a time” and said that interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo will have the final call on the team’s QB situation.
  • Several teams have failed to lure Cowboys senior director of college and pro personnel Will McClay in the past, but there is a feeling that he might be interested in the Giants‘ GM vacancy, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv writes. McClay is in charge of the Cowboys’ drafts and they have had a strong track record in recent years. McClay is among the Fritz Pollard Alliance’s recommended minority candidates for GM jobs this offseason.