Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on Zeke holdout: ‘It could go into the season, of course’

Associated Press

Leave it to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to offer up an anatomy lesson in an effort to try to explain his patience with the lack of movement on contract talks with quarterback Dak Prescott, receiver Amari Cooper and holdout running back Ezekiel Elliott as the team prepares to break training camp in Oxnard, Calif.

“I don’t know of any fan or anybody that’s worried about practice or preseason,” Jones began a convoluted but humorous analogy. “The issue is, and the only bit of leverage is, can it go into the regular season?

“And that’s when you start creating paying a price, if you’re a team. But the players pay prices too in doing that. All of that, as I’ve said, and tried to point out, when you’ve been in this, and have done it as many times as I have, then it doesn’t startle you. It doesn’t alarm.”

Jones continued with “the definition of a liberal arts education.”

“Picture you were a driver of a car and you had a wreck and your hand was almost severed off, but you didn’t understand your anatomy,” Jones explained. “You look down, you’re spurting blood, you open the door, and run to the woods, and either die bleeding to death or shock. The educated looks down, knows his anatomy, squeezes and knows his best chance is to wait for help. That’s because he’s been there and done that. So I’m squeezing and waiting for help.”

Asked where his help was going to come from, Jones joked, probably from “another part of his anatomy.”

COULD ZEKE MISS REGULAR SEASON GAMES?

Yes, a giggling Jones has been here before.

But this team hasn’t and these players may take the situation a little more personally than Jones.

With the Sept. 8 season opener against the New York Giants less than four weeks away, the facts are that talks could go into the season, which Jones readily acknowledges.

That means Elliott, who has been in Cabo San Lucas since the start of training camp, could miss games, if he sticks to his guns on not returning to the team without a new contract.

“I’m not in any way (fearful of him missing games) but I certainly know that we’re in a situation where it could be Week 1, of course or be Week 2,” Jones said. “It could go into the season, of course. And that’s the facts. If it doesn’t, it’s probably no harm.

“Zeke has the ability to completely hit the ground running, if I may use that. He has that and we expect that. He says that, and I believe him, that he’s in great shape. In the meantime, we have to be ready to go without him.”

JERRY JONES NOT INTERESTED IN SETTING THE MARKET

Jones is also still dug in on the Cowboys agreeing to deals that fit the team structure rather than allowing the players to achieve market value.

Vice president Stephen Jones has said the team has offered Prescott and Cooper deals that were in the top five of their position and Elliott a deal that is No. 2.

Prescott, specifically, has turned down a contract of more than $30 million annually and has asked for one that could approach $40 million.

“My focus is on our team, not where any of these players’ contracts are relative to another player,” Jones said. “I’m not dealing in the market. I’m dealing with how to fit this team together.

“The kind of adviser, if I’m listening to advice, is how to get all of these top players under the cap. So I don’t have the responsibility of dealing with the market. And these players really don’t either because they have penalties if they’ve got to not play, they’ve got fines, they got all kinds of issues that are involved.

“So we’re both trying to do something that has a certain acclimation. You’ve got to think about it a little while. It’s not like me going out here and buying something that I have to decide, ‘Do I just want to spend that to have that?’ That’s not it at all.”

Jones said the Cowboys had to cut future Hall of Fame defensive end DeMarcus Ware in 2014 because of salary cap constraints due to large contracts.

“That happened to me,” Jones said. “So I don’t want that to happen again. And we’ve got some top talent here.”

So Prescott and the Cowboys are heading to Hawaii on Thursday for the second preseason game on Saturday against the Los Angeles Rams. He will play at least a quarter before going an entire half against the Houston Texans in the third preseason game.

Prescott will sit out the finale against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in advance of the season opener.

Jones said Prescott’s deal won’t impact him or the Cowboys going into the season. They will continue to negotiate if something is not done before then.

“It’s not an issue,” Jones said. “His contract, as to playing, the frame of mind of what we are going to be doing this year. It’s not an issue at all. It has no bearing. As I see it, it’s something that is more about the future.”

It may not be an issue for Jones.

But Prescott is making just $2.02 million in 2019 and will risk a deal worth at least $30 million annually every time he takes the field.

Meanwhile, Jones is squeezing his arm.

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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.
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