Jerry Jones rubs Cowboys fans’ noses in ‘all in’ mantra, explains lack of offseason action

Jerry Jones rubs Cowboys fans’ noses in ‘all in’ mantra, explains lack of offseason action

Well, now they’re just rubbing our noses in it.

“All in” it, you might say.

From the moment Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’s backside hit his chair for the team’s pre-draft press conference on Tuesday, it took less than three and a half minutes for him to- completely unprompted, mind you- spit out the catchphrase that first energized and then infuriated the team’s fanbase this offseason.

“We feel great about what we’ve been in free agency,” Jones ramped up before practically delivering the line with a knowing wink and hitting it three times, like any good comedian knows is key. “All in. All in. All in.”

Stephen Jones literally snickered into the microphone as his dad continued on his roll.

“We’re all in with these young guys coming on. And we’re all in with this draft.”

Cowboys fans were told the front office was “all in” on the offseason, and most interpreted that as a promise to be more aggressive in free agency. When the Joneses ended up spending less than every other team on veteran reinforcements, fans assumed it would become about locking in the team’s superstars- quarterback Dak Prescott, wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, and edge rusher Micah Parsons- to long-term extensions.

So far, that hasn’t happened yet, either.

Jones was asked how he would justify that inactivity to fans, and the 81-year-old got uncharacteristically testy.

“You may be working on it and not moving anything but your eyebrows. Who in the world would think that we’re not working on it? I work on it; it pops open at two in the morning sometimes. Your actual question is: why don’t you have something done an negotiated and put in the drawer? Well, we’d like to see some more leaves fall. We’d like to see some more action. It’s called option. A lot of guys need to hand it off to the first guy through the line. Another one will keep it another step, decide whether to pitch it or not, he’ll decide whether to turn upfield with it, and then he’s still got a pitch left. It’s called option quarterback. That’s working the problem. I’ve spent my life being an option quarterback, and I can go right out to the damn sideline and still leave a pitch in me… To say that you’re not working on it is not the right answer. What they differ with is your style. It’s on your mind; it’d be madness not to know that the contracts are ahead. I want to see a few more cards play, candidly. If you’ve got trouble with when the timing is around here, it’s because I’m not ready to go.”

It’s hard to say whether “I am working on it privately behind the scenes” or “I’d like to keep my options open” will drive Cowboys fans more crazy.

Jones reminded reporters more than once that the current conversation about the team’s big-money contracts is something they’ve known was coming.

“It’s called a salary cap. It is not a lack of money, under the premise. It’s not that at all. It’s a part of the rules, just like you can’t be offside or you can’t hit a guy when he’s already on he ground… And that salary cap means that if you pay [Zack] Martin more money one year, you’re going to have less to pay the next year. That’s just part of it,” Jones explained.

The billionaire reframed it in terms that maybe us common folk can better grasp.

“Sometimes you look at your account, and you’re loaded with money in there that day. But you know you’ve incurred bills that’s three times the money you have in your account. But that day, it looks like you’ve got a lot of money. You’ve got to be disciplined about spending what’s in your account if you know you’ve got all these bills out here,” he continued.

“You do understand when you’ve been operating on the credit card. And there’s no question we have been operating on the credit card. That’s how we’ve had Dak Prescott plus this great supporting cast around him for the last three or four years.”

Jones admitted that the supporting cast will have to make do with some less-expensive role-players this season and even acknowledged that there have been money moves made in the past that are partly to blame.

“We’ve had adjustments,” he said. “I saw some criticism someplace about Zeke and about paying Zeke. Do I need a raise of hands in this room of everybody that thought Zeke should be on this football team when he was holding out? But we had to adjust the contract, which took away from money that could have gone to Tyron.”

So the most valuable franchise on the planet is out here using coupons on Hamburger Helper, trying to serve it up like it’s filet mignon at Ruth’s Chris. And acting like it’s all part of the master plan.

“We have embraced running out of cap room, just as we embraced using it when we had it. So you embrace a lot about where you are. The mistake would be not looking around the corner ahead and understanding, two and three years out, where you’re going to be,” Jones said.

“I probably have as a 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.”

But when it comes to the notion of a future without Prescott under center, Jones was firm.

“We want Dak Prescott,” he said flatly. “That’s that.”

Prescott hinted that he and Jones have spoken recently and are on the same page as to his future. Lamb, though, Prescott’s primary target on the field, said that talks over his expected extension haven’t even started. The Cowboys have traditionally saved their high-dollar announcements for the summer, often fine-tuning their biggest contracts while at training camp in California.

So the current silence is not unusual, the Joneses suggested.

“Talks are not a barometer of whether you’re close to a deal,” Jerry said. “At all.”

“When you’re talking about big contracts, like Dak, like CeeDee, like Micah,” Stephen added, “those things don’t happen overnight.”

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But they also apparently don’t happen over 100 nights, which is precisely how long it’s been since Dallas was embarrassed at home in a first-round playoff loss to seventh-seeded Green Bay.

And while fans are anxious to just have their favorite players locked in, the Cowboys bean-counters are fine to keep watching and waiting, being cautious to not overpay once again if they don’t have to.

“I can assure you, if we felt like we could get a number that was a good number…?” Stephen asked rhetorically. “Unfortunately, these, as we all know, representatives talk to each other. You don’t think the representatives of [Justin] Jefferson and CeeDee and [Ja’Marr] Chase aren’t talking? And you’d think they’ve got their eye on something really big? Please. Same thing with Micah, same thing with Dak. It’s cat-and-mouse.”

The penny-pinching approach the front office is employing this offseason will no doubt have the Cowboys similarly chasing the big spenders in the NFC, like the division rival Eagles.

That leaves the team exactly where they are today, with their most important contributors wondering about the club’s commitment to their long-term futures while the brass is simultaneously preparing to breathlessly usher in a new batch of minimum-football-wage workers.

“We’re very proud of this roster,” Jones said. “We feel good about the promise of the team that we’re going to have this year with this roster.”

But all the explanations, draft picks, and catchy taglines in the world likely won’t have Cowboys fans feeling any better about how 2024 is currently shaping up.

Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire