Dallas Cowboys

Who did Cowboys make strides in free agency with at combine? DLaw? Beasley? Thomas?

Let the Dallas Cowboys tell it, the NFL Scouting Combine is a feeling out process with respective agents.

There was no expectation of getting anything done during the event, which began last Wednesday and runs through Tuesday and comes two weeks before the start of free agency.

Well, mission accomplished, aside from having meetings with the agents for defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, quarterback Dak Prescott, receiver Amari Cooper and cornerback Byron Jones.

Lawrence is the top priority as he is an unrestricted free agent and has the franchise tag deadline coming to a head on Tuesday.

“I won’t comment on that,” owner Jerry Jones said Saturday. “I don’t want that to be interpreted as yes, no or indifferent. It’s just that Tuesday is a long way off.”

Tuesday is less 24 hours away now.

The truth is there is little hope of bridging the gap on a deal that should be easy to do, as of now, if the Cowboys truly want to get something done.

The 2019 franchise tag of $20.5 million is the floor. Chicago Bears defensive end Khalil Mack’s 6-year, $141 million contract that includes a $34 million signing bonus, $90 million guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $23.5 million is the ceiling.

Meet in the middle and get it done.

“It certainly was complete and everybody got to say what they wanted to say,” Jones said when asked about the negotiations with Lawrence. “On things like this you really don’t know how good they were until you get it done or make a different decision. It’s just not accurate to say because it implies a certain amount of tangible things that you could agree on something but if you agree on something else in a different way you change that something you agreed on 20 minutes before. So the thing has to end up totally being a whole deal to have an agreement. I’m not trying to arm wave here but I just think that we’re in it and everybody and he certainly has every incentive to get an agreement done and we do too.”

Whatever that means.

Deals for quarterback Prescott and Cooper seem to be just a matter of time and could come at any point this off-season.

What’s certain is the Cowboys want to get something done with both having no issue with the price tag. They plan on paying market value for a top quarterback and a top receiver.

Getting something done this off-season with Elliott seems to be more a convenience than a necessity. They plan on paying him top money. It’s just a matter of when.

The sticking point is that Elliott wants his deal done now and could hold out if he is not rewarded.

Receiver Cole Beasley is a free agent and the Cowboys want him back. But they are having a hard time honoring his request for a deal with $20 million in guaranteed money. Per a source, Beasley is drawing interest in the market. The question is whether they will meet his demands.

If Beasley doesn’t return, the Cowboys will most certainly target a slot receiver in the 2019 NFL Draft. Allen Hurns, if he recovers from a fractured leg as expected, is also an option there.

Receiver Tavon Austin is another consideration for the slot, if he re-signs in free agency.

The Cowboys want to bring back swing tackle Cam Fleming but he is going to test the open market for a starting job first. Without Fleming, the Cowboys will need a tackle to play behind the oft-injured Tyron Smith.

And then there is Seattle Seahawks free safety Earl Thomas, who has let it be known he wants a deal at the top of the market, surpassing the $13 million annually of Kansas City’s Eric Reid.

Thomas wants to come to the Cowboys and the Cowboys would like to add him to the back end of the defense.

But Thomas is not budging on his demands. And the Cowboys, as of now, have no interest in paying that much, given Thomas’ age and recent injury history, per source.

Thomas, who turns 30 in May, missed three games in 2016, two games in 2017 and 12 games in 2018.

The Cowboys like free safety Xavier Woods and would rather target a strong safety in the draft.

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Clarence E. Hill Jr. has covered the Dallas Cowboys as a beat writer/columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 1997. That includes just two playoff wins, six coaches and countless controversies from the demise of the dynasty teams of the 1990s through the rollercoaster years of the Tony Romo era until Jason Garrett’s process Cowboys.