Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones seemingly admitted the cap-strapped club faces significant roster turmoil this offseason because of — and in favor to — $160 million quarterback Dak Prescott.
“That’s the tough part of our business,” Jones said Tuesday, February 1 at the Senior Bowl, via Pro Football Talk. “As much as we respect these men, they also know that we’ve got to run a business. There’s only so much to go around. And we’ve been saying that since day one. But the right guy has the money right now and that’s No. 4 and from there we’ve got to put the right pieces around him.”
That Jones is fielding questions about potentially cutting DeMarcus Lawrence or trading wide receiver Amari Cooper stems, in large part, from Prescott’s record-setting contract, which carries a $34.45 million salary-cap hit for 2022. His base salary as part of the four-year pact also shoots from $2.750 million in 2021 to $20 million next season.
“The only realistic relief with Prescott’s deal is a restructure, and it’s something that would seem likely given the Cowboys put two void years at the end of Prescott’s contract, and the final year doesn’t have any money on it right now,” 105.3 The Fan’s Bobby Belt wrote on Thursday, January 27.
“Restructuring Prescott would give the Cowboys as much as $15.1 million in cap relief. They could choose to restructure a smaller portion of Prescott’s $20 million dollar salary in 2022, but they might as well maximize the savings given the empty void year at the end of the deal.”
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Jerry Acknowledges ‘Challenges Ahead’
Until or unless Dallas frees up significant cap space, the club will be unable to retain much, if any, of its star talent on a collision course with March unrestricted free agency.
This pool includes (but is not limited to) wide receivers Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson, pass-rusher Randy Gregory, tight end Dalton Schultz, left guard Connor Williams, Pro Bowl punter Bryan Anger, linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, and safeties Damontae Kazee, Jayron Kearse, and Malik Hooker.
“We have challenges. It’s going to be hard for us to get the same talent on the field going in [to next season],” Jerry Jones recently conceded, via The Athletic.
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Speaking of Cooper …
Jones, like his father, has assumed a critical stance against the star Cowboys wideout, who logged his fewest catches (68) and receiving yards (865) since 2017, struggling through a COVID-marred campaign — but taking home $20 million for his troubles.
Unlike Jerry, however, Stephen Jones somewhat exonerated Cooper for his disappointing production, thrusting partial blame on galaxy-brained offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.
“Well, it’s sometimes not all on the receiver too. It’s scheme. It’s getting the receiver the ball, the touches, the targets that he needs. But if you’re gonna pay somebody a lot of money, you want them to be the best at what they do,” Jones said on Tuesday, February 1, via Pro Football Talk. “Whether that’s catching, whether that’s yards, whether that’s receptions, whether that’s touchdowns, whether that’s throwing touchdown passes. Winning football games if you’re a quarterback. Whether it’s a running back if you’re getting your touches and you’re scoring touchdowns and you’re running for yards.
“I mean all those things. Your pass rushers you want to be getting pressures and making plays. I mean, all those things relate to how a guy’s paid and once you pay that player a lot of money then with that comes high expectations. And they know that. These players know that.”