Jerry and Stephen Jones held a press conference Tuesday with Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith, who just signed a hefty five-year extension with the team. Smith’s successful negotiations stand in stark contrast to those of wide receiver Amari Cooper, quarterback Dak Prescott, and running back Ezekiel Elliott, all of whom want new deals of their own to remain with the Cowboys. Elliott, at the most vulnerable and exploited position among them, is holding out, and his situation is now turning sour.
The elder Jones was full of a particularly gory strain of confidence a week ago, telling assembled media that he was “not in any way” worried that Elliott—who Jones described as “in great shape”—might not be ready for the regular season. That confidence may not have wavered much in the days since, but Jones didn’t miss an opportunity to take a jab at Elliott following Dallas’s preseason exhibition against the Rams on Saturday, a game in which backup Tony Pollard got the start and ripped off 42 yards rushing and a touchdown on just five carries. When asked whether Pollard’s performance would affect negotiations with Elliott, Jones went for a dig:
It’s a small little joke—and not nearly as funny as the guffawing press made it out to be, for crying out loud—but it’s at least a little uncool considering Jones is across the negotiating table from Elliott, engaged in a back-and-forth over the running back’s value to the team. Jones knew it was on or over the line, which is why he made an effort to walk it back. That effort was mostly unsuccessful—through his agent, Elliott made it clear he felt he’d been disrespected:
This is where a slightly more firmly hinged owner would’ve offered a light apology and moved on. Jones, one of the most powerful owners in professional sports and also possessing an ego the size of Jupiter, is not about to apologize to some damn running back. Asked about Elliott’s hurt feelings during Smith’s press conference Tuesday, Jones turned defensive:
This could mean a lot of things, but the likeliest is that Jones is referencing the war he waged on the NFL and Roger Goodell in 2017 over Elliott’s six-game suspension, un-suspension, re-suspension, un-re-suspention, re-re-suspension, un-re-re-suspension, and eventual re-re-re-suspension, for a violation of the league’s personal conduct policy stemming from an accusation of domestic abuse. For challenging the authoritarian powers of Goodell, Jones believes he’s earned the right to talk shit about the player he was defending. Which is an odd reward to take from a defense that was ostensibly mounted from a foundation of moral outrage. Hmm.
At any rate, it’s encouraging to hear from Jones that he’s a man who believes that a person should have the right to recoup what they’ve earned for past performance. I can only assume that belief will expedite contract negotiations with Elliott, going forward.