Jerry Jones won’t be ‘deterred’ by title drought, puts all eyes on ’23

Todd ArcherESPN Writer4 minute read

INDIANAPOLIS — Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones’ arrival at the NFL scouting combine on Friday was delayed due to inclement weather, but he spoke on the team bus anyway for over an hour, covering a number of topics.

The Cowboys are now 27 seasons away from their last Super Bowl after losing in the playoffs for the second straight year to the San Francisco 49ers in January, but he’s not obsessed with the championship drought; just the quest to do it in 2023.

“I don’t get discouraged when you say, ‘You haven’t been to a Super Bowl in X years,'” Jones said. “I’m not doing this because I could have won the last five and not yet made another Super Bowl and I would have to work hard to get to the next Super Bowl like I lost five. or four. It’s real.”

To return to a Super Bowl for the first time since 1995, the Cowboys will need to resolve several issues with their roster.

Although he hasn’t entered into a contract extension for Dak Prescott, he believes the quarterback can move on from a season in which he tied the NFL’s lead in steals (15) despite five games missed.

“He has the physical skills to do it at the level to win us a Super Bowl,” Jones said. “Does he do it with some of the same nuances that a lot of these other quarterbacks do? No, he doesn’t. He has things he can work on and be more effective at. Let me put it like this: Dak is a born error eliminator. If I choose someone to whom I would say, “Now go ahead and fix your mistakes, do you improve or do this?” I would rather start with him like raw material rather than anyone I’ve rubbed shoulders with in that position.”

Prescott has a $49.1 million salary cap that the Cowboys could reduce with a restructured or extended contract. Jones acknowledged the difficulty of improving players around Prescott because of the contract.

“We want to get all the help around him, but as we know, when you have a competitive paid quarterback in the NFL, you’re not going to be able to get the most skill around him,” Jones said. “You’re going to have to pick your spots and you’re going to be a little slower one year than the next – not slow in terms of speed, just in what you do. You can’t pay for that position – forget Dak – you don’t can’t pay that position at that level, take as many dollars as available and then put the exact thing around it.”

That’s why Jones believes the biggest offensive improvement will come from coach Mike McCarthy becoming the playmaker.

“The natural thing to do to see how to give more to what Dak can be was to appeal to what Mike can bring to the table,” Jones said.

Jones wasn’t ready to say the Cowboys planned to use the $10.1 million franchise tag on running back Tony Pollard by Tuesday. The Cowboys have met with his agent at the combine, but have yet to have major negotiations over a multi-year deal.

“I really don’t want to say it’s done (using the tag) because as these things go on you don’t know where you are until your due date comes and goes” , said Jones. “But right now Tony is definitely a big part of our plans.”

And what impact does that have on Ezekiel Elliott, who has a cap of $16.7 million? Jones wouldn’t rule out keeping both players in 2023. He said Elliott was limited by a right knee injury last year.

“I know I have a reputation for being reluctant to watch great players as they enter the final years of their careers, but I don’t need empathy or I don’t need a feeling of, ‘Look what he’s done for us,’ to turn on the tape and see how much of a difference he made last year until the end of the year,” Jones said. “He made plays. He made runs that, if we hadn’t made them, might have been more negative than they were.”

The Cowboys will need to take steps to move below the cap by the time free agency begins, but that may happen with contract shakeups and potential player releases. He said the Cowboys would be dependent on young players in 2023, but also added a qualifier.

“I want to tell you, don’t dismiss us by doing something special with the right veteran free agent,” Jones said. “Anywhere. I would, in a minute in New York, if I think that’s more than a short-term situation for us.”

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