Jones preaches patience as Dak, Lamb deals await

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FRISCO, Texas — Why haven’t the Dallas Cowboys been able to sign Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb or Micah Parsons to long-term extensions just yet? Owner and general manager Jerry Jones said blame him.

“If you’ve got trouble with when the timing is around here,” Jones said, “it’s because I’m not ready to go.”

Prescott’s contract runs out after the 2024 season and he said last week that negotiations have not really started. Lamb is set to make $17.99 million this year on the fifth-year option and is eligible for the franchise tag next offseason. Parsons is under contractual control through 2025 and then eligible for the franchise tag.

“You may be working on [contracts] and not moving anything but your eyebrows,” Jones said. “Who in the world would think that we’re not working on it? I work on it. It pops up at 2 in the morning sometimes. What you’re actually questioning is why don’t you have something done and negotiated and put in the drawer? Well, we’d like to see some more leaves fall. We’d like to see some more action.”

In Lamb’s case, there is something of a waiting game between him and Minnesota Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson. Miami’s Tyreek Hill is currently the highest paid receiver in average per year at $30 million.

“You don’t think the representatives of Jefferson and CeeDee and [Cincinnati’s Ja’Marr Chase] aren’t talking? You don’t think they got their eye on something really big? Please,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “They’re not ready to come in here. Same thing with Micah. Same thing with Dak. It’s a little cat and mouse. And total respect for them.”

In Prescott’s case, it could be wanting to see him get the Cowboys beyond the divisional round of the playoffs for the first time in his career. Last week Prescott said it was not “necessarily” his goal to be the highest-paid quarterback. He also said he is fine waiting, knowing that he will receive a large offer from the Cowboys or hit the open market as a free agent next March since the team cannot use the franchise tag on him.

Prescott counts $55.4 million against the salary cap. Without an extension before next March, he would count roughly $40 million against the cap in dead money and not be on their roster. This offseason, the Cowboys have signed only two free agents, while losing starters Tyron Smith at left tackle, running back Tony Pollard and center Tyler Biadasz in free agency.

“Dak has enjoyed, in his career that we’re proud of, some of the best supporting casts that you could put around him,” Jerry Jones said. “To move forward, we will have to diminish that. That’s a fact. That’s the rules. That’s our challenge and to make it work out: Dak as the quarterback of the Cowboys. I don’t even have a blink on that one.”

The Cowboys do not face a similar time crunch with Parsons. The team will likely look at having the highest-paid defensive player (more than $34 million annually) and among the highest-paid quarterbacks (more than $50 million annually) and wide receivers.

By waiting, the players’ prices would only seem to increase.

“If you’re asking me do I worry about things going up? Not worry, but I probably have as good a feel as anybody living on this earth what the cap is going to be three years from now, four years from now, five years from now. I really do,” Jerry Jones said. “We’ve got exceptional insight into where the cap is going to be more so than a lot of people.”

While Prescott has been participating in the voluntary offseason program, Lamb has stayed away. So, too, has Parsons, but he was absent from the early part of the program last year as well.

“Timing is obviously as important as the principal amount,” Jerry Jones said, “and sometimes timing keeps you from making a mistake.”

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