Cowboys VP Stephen Jones on roster: 'We max out our salary cap'

April 16, 2024, 3:09 PM

FRISCO, Texas -- So far in free agency, the largest two payouts the Dallas Cowboys have made total just under $6 million, to cornerback Jourdan Lewis and linebacker Eric Kendricks.

According to the NFL Players Association's website, the Cowboys have $7.4 million in salary space and have yet to fill vacancies created by the departures of left tackle Tyron Smith, center Tyler Biadasz, running back Tony Pollard and defensive end Dorance Armstrong.

"We spend max, max money year in and year out. All 32 can only spend the same amount of money over a five-year stretch," executive vice president Stephen Jones told 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. "When we're all said and done, we max out our salary cap every year. We will have done that and what comes with having a good roster, which we do, we also are looking towards signing our own guys. It doesn't mean it happens overnight. But when you're wanting to sign players like Dak [Prescott] and Micah [Parsons] and CeeDee [Lamb], then certainly you have to hold money back if you want to have a realistic chance of signing those guys."

Extensions for Prescott and Lamb would decrease their salary cap figures for 2024. Prescott currently counts $55.4 million against the cap, while Lamb is set to count $17.99 million thanks to the fifth-year option on his rookie deal.

Prescott is set to become an unrestricted free agent after this season, with the Cowboys unable to use the franchise tag on him. Lamb could be a candidate for the franchise tag if they are unable to work out a lucrative extension by next March. The Cowboys will pick up Parsons' fifth-year option for 2025 at a cost of more than $21 million.

Lamb and Parsons have not attended the first two days of the Cowboys' voluntary offseason program. A source told ESPN's Adam Schefter that Lamb's absence was due to contract negotiations, while Parsons did not take part in the program a year ago, opting to work out on his own.

Prescott has been at the program, which includes meetings, workouts and rehab for two weeks under Phase 1.

While the Cowboys have expressed a desire to sign Prescott, Lamb and Parsons to long-term extensions, there have been little to no discussions with the players' representatives, according to sources.

If the Cowboys are to add free agents, the signings are likely to come after next week's draft.

The Cowboys have seven selections, including No. 24 overall in the first round. Tyler Smith, their 2022 first-round pick, started at left tackle as a rookie but had a Pro Bowl year at left guard in 2023. Depending on how the draft goes, he could move back to tackle. Jones said the Cowboys have hopes for Brock Hoffman or T.J. Bass at center if they are unable to fill that spot in the draft.

"We just think you have to continue to evolve as an offensive line," Jones said. "And certainly you hate to lose a player like Tyron Smith, who's going to be, in my opinion, a Hall of Famer. I think he's going to wearing a yellow jacket, but at the same time, unfortunately, Tyron's had to miss a lot of games, and at some point you have to make those tough decisions. You hate to lose Tyler a center in terms of what he had done for us, but at some point there you've got to make a tough decision that we can have him go to another team and we can replace him hopefully and have a center who's better."