Cowboys EVP Stephen Jones says he understands fans frustration

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Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones acknowledged that the team’s front office is “very aware” of the club’s frustrated fan base after little splash was made during free agency.

Sure, the Cowboys added veteran linebacker Eric Kendricks on a one-year agreement on Wednesday, however the fans expected more — especially after Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said earlier this offseason that he planned to go “all in.”

And “all in” didn’t include signing two-time rushing champion Derrick Henry, who told Mad Dog Sports Radio that the Cowboys didn’t even reach out to him. That comes on the heels of seeing Saquon Barkley (Philadelphia) and Aaron Jones (Minnesota) — who lives in Dallas during the offseason — land with other teams while the Cowboys saw fellow running back Tony Pollard join the Tennessee Titans.

“Everybody certainly has that right (to be frustrated),” Stephen Jones said Thursday, via The Athletic. “I know where the frustration is, it’s the fact that we haven’t had success in the playoffs to their satisfaction. Until we do that, then the criticism is certainly something that’s going to be there. We know that’s going to be there, but we’re going to stick with what we believe will ultimately get us a championship here for our fans. We don’t define ‘all in’ by what you spend in free agency. It’s keeping the core (together).”

Dallas has little cap space to work with. The Cowboys also have quarterback Dak Prescott seeking a contract extension and wide receiver CeeDee Lamb and linebacker Micah Parsons in line for large deals.

“It’s not frustrating because it means we’ve done a good job with the draft,” Stephen Jones said when asked about seeing big-name free agents land elsewhere. “That’s just a sign, in my mind, that our organization, Will (McClay) and the scouting department, the coaches, we’ve done our job in terms of developing players. It’s a great thing when you have Micah and CeeDee and the Dak (contract) challenge ahead of us, in terms of getting them under the cap. We’re certainly all in on getting that done.

“When you want to keep your players that you’ve developed and worked so hard to get … then you’re not going to be able to go out and chase those (high-dollar free agent) guys. … The way I look at things, I’ve always said it, player acquisition is 365 days a year. It’s not just the first or second or third day of free agency.”

Prescott, 30, is entering his ninth season and the final campaign of a four-year, $160 million contract he signed in 2021. Prescott’s salary-cap figure in 2024 is $59.5 million and the Cowboys reportedly have held preliminary discussions regarding a long-term extension.

Nine quarterbacks have signed contracts with higher total values since Prescott and the Cowboys completed their existing agreement.

Lamb, 24, heads into the 2024 season on the last season of his contract thanks to a fifth-year option.

However, after a season in which he set franchise records for receptions (135) and receiving yards (1,749), Lamb is expected to seek a significant increase from his $17.9 million fifth-year salary. That would bring him more in line with the annual salaries of other wide receivers in the league like Miami’s Tyreek Hill ($30 million) and Las Vegas’ Davante Adams ($28 million).

Parsons, 24, also has the numbers to earn a raise, having earned Pro Bowl team and All-Pro nods in each of his first three seasons. Selected by the Cowboys with the 12th pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, Parsons has one year left on his rookie deal, with this offseason being the first opportunity to extend his deal.

Parsons had 14.0 sacks to lead the Cowboys in 2023. He has a career total of 40.5 sacks in 50 games, all starts.