The Dallas Cowboys have been notably frugal with their money in free agency this offseason.

While the archrival Philadelphia Eagles have been customarily aggressive, handing out major contracts to star running back Saquon Barkley and pass-rusher Bryce Hall while extending wide receiver Devonta Smith, the Cowboys have not done much check-cutting at all. In fact, the biggest contracts they have doled out combine to reach just $6 million. That money went towards re-signing cornerback Jourdan Lewis and adding veteran linebacker Eric Kendricks, respectively.

More worrisome for Cowboys fans is the fact that the team and quarterback Dak Prescott appear poised to enter the 2024 season, Prescott’s last under his current contract, without a new extension in place. The Cowboys are also reportedly far apart from wide receiver CeeDee Lamb on extension talks following a breakout year for him, and a similar extension for star pass-rusher Micah Parsons does not appear close, either.

Skip: Cowboys face contract mess with Dak, CeeDee Lamb, Micah Parsons

However, the Cowboys’ apparent penny-pitching is in fact due to that desire to keep their own stars with, well, a star on their helmets for the foreseeable future, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones told a Dallas radio station Tuesday. 

“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,” Jones said on 105.3 The Fan. “When we’re all said and done, we max out our salary cap every year. We will have done that. What comes with having a good roster, which we do, we also are looking towards [re-]signing our own guys. It doesn’t mean it happens overnight. But when you’re wanting to sign players like Dak and Micah and CeeDee, then certainly you have to hold money back if you want to have a realistic chance of signing those guys.”

The squad has sizable gaps to fill from the vacancies left by the departures of offensive linemen Tyron Smith and Tyler Biadasz, running back Tony Pollard and defensive end Dorance Armstrong. But Stephen Jones and his father, team owner and general manager Jerry Jones, have been adamant that the team will do what’s required to keep their most important players around. 

Prescott, whose salary takes up $55 million of Dallas’ salary cap, will be an unrestricted free agent next offseason as mentioned.

Then there is Parsons, whose fifth-year option will be picked up for 2025. That will count for $21 million against the salary cap. And Jones cannot forget about Lamb, whose fifth-year option is good for $17.99 million against the team’s cap. Both Lamb and Parsons have not been present at the team’s voluntary offseason program thus far. Lamb’s reasoning is contract-related, per ESPN. 

Should the Dallas Cowboys be WORRIED about CeeDee Lamb?

But the Cowboys are presently focused on next week’s 2024 NFL Draft, with intentions to improve the offensive line.

“We just think you have to continue to evolve as an offensive line,” Stephen Jones explained. “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.”

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