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FRISCO – A recent Sunday morning TV report about the contractual future of Dallas Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones sounded strikingly familiar to us … Because it’s the same exact news we broke nine months ago.
The “latest” comes from CBS Sports, which writes, “Sources said it looks increasingly likely (Jones) will be elsewhere in 2020.” This story – which also features a completely inaccurate “scoop” on how Dallas is likely to “lose Amari Cooper” – frankly continues a CBS trend of taking the original work of others and then tacking on its own claim of “additional sources” to steal credit for a story that isn’t really theirs, or, as it likely the case here, simply being ignorant regarding their “new story” actually being a regurgitation of someone else’s reporting.
So what did we write about the Cowboys and Byron Jones last March 13? And what has changed? First, the original reporting:
The Cowboys think Byron Jones “deserves all the credit” for his breakout season at cornerback in 2018. As a result, he deserves all the money, too.
But I do not believe that’s going to happen in Dallas.
“I want nothing other than playing for the Dallas Cowboys,” Jones told the media at the Pro Bowl, where he was a first-time participant. And it’s a remark that is classic Byron: He combines being smart and thoughtful with being an athletic badass, traits that especially paid off for last season when new defensive aide Kris Richard suggested the move from safety to corner for the former first-round pick.
The payoff was immediate, incredible and year-long. Jones proved to be among the NFL corners most difficult to score against, even to complete a pass against. In In 64 career games (entering 2019), Jones has only two interceptions, but that’s really a nitpick given all his positives.
So why won’t it be an automatic, as he enters the final year of his existing deal, for Dallas to pay him like the elite corner he’s proven to be?
Maybe part of it is some reservations, on some level, that he’s truly worthy of Josh Norman ($15 mil a year) or Patrick Peterson ($14 mil a year) money. But bigger than that, I think, is the “You Can’t Pay Everybody” philosophy that drives salary-cap-related decisions.
At the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones met the DFW media on his bus and engaged in a fun parlor game of “Make Your List.” He wouldn’t offer his “priority list,” except to suggest to reporters that his list likely mirrors theirs/ours/yours.
The names on the Cowboys’ list include DeMarcus Lawrence, Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper. For a variety of reasons, those three are probably the priorities. Finding a way to do Ezekiel Elliott would figure to be next in the pecking order.
The Cowboys have talked publicly about re-signing Byron, possibly as early as this offseason. But if he knows he can be a $14 million APY guy if he repeats his 2018 season, why should be bow to anywhere near his present salary of $6.2 mil?
And if the Cowboys have to do Tank, Dak, Amari and Zeke, how can Byron possibly leap-from over them in importance?
When Richard said of Jones, “I think the sky is the limit for him,” he might very well be right about the talent and the performance. But when it comes to paying Byron Jones $15 million a year to stay in Dallas? I think the (financial) limit is somewhere south of the sky.
And now today … Dallas of course did sign Tank and Zeke and continues to pledge to sign Dak and Amari. They do not talk of Byron at the same level, because while they view him as a very good corner, there has not been 2019 justification to view him – for a team with available cap funds for 2020 ear-marked very specifically – as a priority.
Meanwhile, the cost of retaining Prescott and Cooper has risen. And that’s yet another reason that barring a Jones willingness to take less than market value to be a “Cowboy for Life,” my March report on him getting “squeezed” is mirrored exactly by what I’m reporting now.