National Football League
Dallas executive Stephen Jones addresses the Cowboys' repeated slow start to free agency
National Football League

Dallas executive Stephen Jones addresses the Cowboys' repeated slow start to free agency

Published Mar. 14, 2024 7:18 p.m. ET

Another quiet start to free agency for the Dallas Cowboys isn't sitting well with fans, particularly after yet another postseason flop.

Executive vice president of personnel Stephen Jones is steadfast in communicating the organization's belief in avoiding big-money deals for free agents, regardless of where the team is with the salary cap.

"I've always been of the ilk that in these first couple of days of free agency, you pay good players like they're great, you pay average players like they're good and so on and so forth," Jones said Thursday. "The market's inflated, in our mind. That's one opinion."

The Cowboys made a smaller move Thursday by re-signing cornerback Jourdan Lewis to a one-year contract. Long snapper Trent Sieg is also coming back.


Dallas was the last team in the NFL to add a free agent from elsewhere, agreeing to terms with Eric Kendricks after the linebacker initially pledged to sign with San Francisco.

Instead, Kendricks chose a reunion with new Cowboys defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, who was Kendricks' head coach in Minnesota for his first seven NFL seasons.

Kendricks, who was with the Los Angeles Chargers last season, fills one of Dallas' biggest needs.

It's been 12 years since the Cowboys last spent big for a free agent, and they didn't get a huge return on the $50 million, five-year investment into Brandon Carr.

"There's a lot to be played out between now and our first game next year," Jones said. "I don't think you win a Super Bowl championship on the first, second or third day of the league year."

The Cowboys haven't been to a Super Bowl, or even in the NFC championship game, since winning the title to cap the 1995 season. The latest failure was a 48-32 wild-card loss to Green Bay, the second time in three years Dallas was the only home team to lose on the opening weekend of the playoffs.

"I know where the frustration is; it's the fact that we have not had a lot of success in the playoffs to their satisfaction," Jones said. "Until we do that, the criticism is certainly something that's going to be there. But we are going to stick with what we believe will ultimately get us a championship for our fans. We don't define all-in by what you spend in free agency."

Jones said a potential salary cap hit of nearly $60 million in the final year of quarterback Dak Prescott's $160 million, four-year contract isn't limiting the Cowboys in free agency.

Prescott and the Cowboys have been discussing options, including an extension that would help on the salary cap in the short term.

Dallas also has looming, expensive second contracts with All-Pro receiver CeeDee Lamb and edge rusher Micah Parsons, a two-time All-Pro and the 2021 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year.

"Dak's been willing to work with us," Jones said. "He's all-in in working with us, and we've had personal discussions with Dak as well. We want to keep that private. Won't get into timelines, but certainly a priority of ours."

Jones said the Cowboys haven't ruled out bringing back eight-time Pro Bowl left tackle Tyron Smith. The second half of Smith's 13-year career has been plagued by injuries, but the 33-year-old played 13 games in 2023, his most in four years.

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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