Stephen Jones: We don’t define "all-in" by what you spend in free agency

Cowboys fans got their hopes up when owner Jerry Jones used the words "all in" when discussing the team's offseason plans. Instead, the Cowboys have let them down again.

Dallas has been the least active team in free agency, sticking to the M.O. it has had since the 2013 offseason.

Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said the team's front office is "very aware" of fans' frustration, adding that "everybody certainly has that right."

“I know where the frustration is: It’s the fact that we haven’t had success in the playoffs to their satisfaction," Stephen Jones said Thursday, via Jon Machota of "Until we do that, then the criticism is certainly something that’s going to be there. We know that’s going to be there, but we’re going to stick with what we believe will ultimately get us a championship here for our fans. We don’t define ‘all in’ by what you spend in free agency. It’s keeping the core [together].”

Jerry Jones said what he said and his attempt to walk it back did nothing to lessen fans' feelings of being duped. Cowboys fans not only are frustrated; they are angry.

They have watched running back Tony Pollard, defensive end Dorance Armstrong, center Tyler Biadasz, defensive end Dante Fowler and defensive tackle Neville Gallimore sign elsewhere. The Cowboys re-signed cornerback Jourdan Lewis and long snapper Trent Sieg to one-year deals and agreed to terms with free agent linebacker Eric Kendricks on a one-year deal.

This was predictable. The Cowboys have not made a splash in free agency since 2012 when they signed cornerback Brandon Carr, backup quarterback Kyle Orton, linebacker Dan Connor and offensive linemen Nate Livings and Mackenzy Bernadeau among others. Bargain shopping is what the Cowboys have done every offseason since.

And with Dak Prescott's contract still not extended, his $59.4 million cap hit weighs heavy on their salary cap.

Stephen Jones defended the approach, pointing to how well the Cowboys have drafted. Homegrown players Prescott, edge rusher Micah Parsons and receiver CeeDee Lamb sooner than later will get top-of-the-market deals.

"It’s not frustrating because it means we’ve done a good job with the draft,” Stephen Jones said of the team's free agent approach. “That’s just a sign, in my mind, that our organization, Will [McClay] and the scouting department, the coaches, we’ve done our job in terms of developing players. It’s a great thing when you have Micah and CeeDee and the Dak [contract] challenge ahead of us, in terms of getting them under the cap. We’re certainly all in on getting that done.

“When you want to keep your players that you’ve developed and worked so hard to get . . . then you’re not going to be able to go out and chase those [high-dollar free agent] guys. . . . The way I look at things, I’ve always said it, player acquisition is 365 days a year. It’s not just the first or second or third day of free agency.”

All of that is true and might have satisfied Cowboys fans if not for Jerry Jones' "all-in" comment. He set them up for disappointment, which is the one thing the Cowboys have consistently delivered since their last Super Bowl in 1995.