There’s been no end to the chatter lately about offensive stars Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott, and Amari Cooper and potential contract extensions with the Dallas Cowboys. But Cornerback Byron Jones, coming off his first Pro Bowl trip in 2018, is also entering the final year of his deal. Does the current quiet around Jones’ contract suggest that it won’t be resolved until 2020?
While it’s unfortunate for his personal health and preparation for this season, Byron’s hip surgery in May is likely stalling discussions. It’s hard for any player to talk finances when he’s not able to perform, and Jones has started training camp on the PUP list while he recovers.
Last we heard, Byron is expected to miss all of camp and likely most of the preseason. He may not return to practice until Week One.
The timing isn’t a bad thing for the Cowboys, who are currently embroiled in contract talks with their offensive trio. Being able to punt on Jones’ deal until 2020 lightens the burden on this season.
It also means potentially getting Byron’s services in 2019 at a major discount.
The salary and cap hit for Byron Jones this year is just $6.27 million, which was the regulated amount for the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. Dallas exercised that option in April 2018 before they knew how Jones’ transition back to CB would work out, and it’s proven to be a very shrewd move.
The average salary for the top-five cornerbacks in the NFL for 2019 is projected at right around $14.5 million. If a new deal isn’t reached, the Cowboys will be getting Byron’s services at less than half that amount.
That average CB salary is worth noting. If Dallas does reach deals with Cooper, Elliott, and Prescott this year, and if Jones has another exemplary season in 2019, then Byron becomes a prime candidate for the team to use the franchise tag on in 2020.
While the threat of being franchised is real, it also makes sense that Byron would want to bet on himself this year. His bargaining position becomes much stronger if he builds on last year and returns to the Pro Bowl, also showing the hip issue has no long-term concerns.
The Cowboys might prefer to get something done sooner than later with Jones, especially if they can use the hip surgery and a single Pro Bowl trip as arguments for a reduced overall contract.
At this point, though, it’s apparent that Byron Jones’ expiring contract has moved to the back burner. It may stay there until 2020, and only time will tell if that helps or hurt the Cowboys in the long run.