Cowboys' to-do list: Deals for Lawrence, Prescott, Cooper, others

INDIANAPOLIS -- Stephen Jones is a multitasker.

When Bill Parcells was coach of the Dallas Cowboys, if he saw the executive vice president in a suit and tie, then he knew Jones was in business mode -- be it football, oil and gas, or real estate. If Parcells saw Jones a little dressed down, he knew Jones was in football mode.

Jones will have to take multitasking to a new level this week at the NFL scouting combine.

Parked on a side street near the downtown Indianapolis Marriott is the Cowboys' luxury bus that serves as part entertainment center and part office. That's where Jones and his team will meet with agents for players such as DeMarcus Lawrence, Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Byron Jones, Ezekiel Elliott, Cole Beasley and others in an attempt to lock down contracts or at the very least make some headway on deals that could shape the future of the franchise.

Because Lawrence, who has 24.5 sacks the past two seasons, is set to be given the franchise tag for the second straight year if no deal is reached by March 5, he is the priority.

"You can have simultaneous [negotiations]," Jones said. "I mean, we've got our hands around our [salary] cap. You can imagine we've done all the machinations and projections and low side, high side, what these guys might cost us. So we obviously feel like we can digest these type of guys and the numbers of these contracts."

The contracts will be big. Lawrence is looking at a payday in the neighborhood of $20 million per year. Prescott is looking at something north of that as the starting quarterback. Cooper will be among the highest-paid wide receivers. Elliott will be among the highest paid running backs.

The Cowboys, however, will have Elliott under contract through 2020 with the fifth-year option on his rookie deal. Last summer, the Los Angeles Rams signed Todd Gurley to a $60 million extension with $45 million guaranteed.

"We've got it budgeted that we're going to pay Zeke a significant contract at some point," Jones said. "He's right at the top of the best in the business, if not the best, and we certainly saw what Gurley got paid and we know that's probably where it starts, and we'll go from there."

Prescott's contract will be the largest and perhaps most difficult to figure. Sixteen quarterbacks made more than $20 million last season. Prescott has yet to throw for 4,000 yards in a season, but he has taken the Cowboys to the playoffs in two of his first three seasons and only Tom Brady has won more games than Prescott (32) since 2016.

The Cowboys plan to meet with Prescott's agent, Todd France, this week as well.

"I mean, you look at a quarterback who has had the success he's had. He's started since Day 1. He's a fourth-round pick. I mean, you can imagine I'm sure what Dak is thinking, too. He's the leader of the football team, as most quarterbacks are. He's done everything the right way, and I think he deserves to have his contract looked at in a very progressive way."

The Cowboys are in Indianapolis without a first-round pick because of the trade for Cooper last season. The deal changed the trajectory of the Cowboys' season. They were 3-4 when they dealt for Cooper and lost just two games with him the rest of the regular season.

"To think that he can be a player for us for the next 8-10 years was a big deal," Jones said. "And so we certainly didn't look at him as an eight-game fix, a 10-game fix, a six-game fix. It was, 'Hey, what can he do for Dak and Zeke and the offensive line group that we've put together to take our offense to the next level."

The Cowboys are projected to have nearly $48 million in salary-cap room, according to ESPN Stats & Information, and they can create more by restructuring contracts, reworking deals or releasing players. They have the cap room to spend on their own players -- including the likes of free-agent receiver Cole Beasley and Pro Bowl cornerback Byron Jones, who is up after the 2019 season -- and sign free agents.

The to-do list is long but necessary if the Cowboys want to be a contender.

"We've got to look at all of them, but it's a lot," Jones said. "Don't get me wrong. But it's certainly something we're not afraid of going to work on."