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Player contracts bring up questions about Cowboys' Super Bowl chances

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said leading into the offseason that the organization was prepared to go all in for a Super Bowl in the 2024-2025 season, though a lack of urgency from the front office has seemingly brought concerns about Jones’ seriousness.

The Cowboys allowed multiple players, including running back Tony Pollard and left tackle Tyron Smith, to be poached by other teams in free agency while also opting against contract extensions for some of the most important players remaining on the team.

Dallas currently has three major players expected to sign extensions with the franchise. Quarterback Dak Prescott, wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, and linebacker Micah Parsons are all eligible for extensions and will likely be paid as top-of-the-market players.

One major issue the Cowboys are now facing is that multiple players at similar positions to these three across the NFL have already received contract extensions with their team. As a result, the expected price tag for the Cowboys’ stars is likely to continue rising in the coming months.

The most controversial pending contract in Dallas is Prescott’s extension. The quarterback is coming off his best season in the NFL, logging 4,516 passing yards with 36 passing touchdowns to just nine interceptions.

While some may have concerns over Prescott’s lack of playoff success, having a record of 2-5 in the postseason, he has grown into one of the most effective players in the league during the regular season.

Regardless of his postseason performance, the Cowboys need to agree to an extension or risk losing Prescott for nothing in free agency next offseason.

The Jacksonville Jaguars recently inked quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who has comparable statistical finishes to Prescott, to a new five-year contract worth $275 million.

This contract could provide a jumping-off point for Prescott and the Cowboys as the two sides will determine whether he should be paid slightly more or slightly less than Lawrence, given various factors, as reported by The Dallas Express.

The next domino to fall would likely be Lamb, who is also coming off his strongest season in the NFL. He led the league with 135 receptions and finished with the second-most receiving yards at 1,749.

According to Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy, Lamb opted against participating in Dallas’ mandatory minicamp to ensure his health while the two sides are at a stalemate over his contract.

In a similar manner to how Lawrence’s extension could benefit Prescott, an extension between the Minnesota Vikings and wide receiver Justin Jefferson could help the discussions between Lamb and the Cowboys.

Jefferson signed an extension worth $140 million over four years to remain in Minnesota, and Lamb is now expected to receive a contract with a similar yearly average of $35 million.

Senior NFL Insider Josina Anderson reported shortly after Jefferson’s contract was completed that Lamb and the Cowboys will likely accelerate extension discussions since “there’s at least a number” that the two sides can now work from, as previously reported by DX.

While it remains unclear whether Lamb would choose to attend the upcoming Cowboys training camp without a finalized contract, it is not uncommon to see players, especially offensive skill position players, sitting out while the two sides work out a deal.

The final contract that Dallas will have to take a look at is in regard to Parsons, as he is set to play in the final year of a four-year $17 million rookie contract.

While linebackers are not often the highest-paid players on their teams, Parson is an exceptional talent who reportedly expects to be the highest-paid non-quarterback in the entire NFL.

Parsons has discussed not being in a rush to sign his future contract until he knows that it is the best deal, saying in early June that “patience is a virtue” in moments like these.

“This market is going to just jump up, and the cap goes up again next year,” he said, per The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “They’re talking about these contracts might for a high-caliber player might be up to $40 million by then.”

These expectations are not out of the realm of possibility, as Parsons has been one of the most dominant defenders since being selected 12th overall by the Cowboys in the 2021 draft.

Parsons has accumulated three straight All-Pro seasons while also finishing within the top three of Defensive Player of the Year voting every season of his career.

Although the Cowboys could have a path to signing all three players to long-term extensions, the best option for the team could be completing at least one of these contracts early to save some cap space and allow for more flexibility in the future.

The longer the Cowboys wait to extend the three stars, the less salary cap flexibility the team will have in the future to improve the team due to the continually ballooning contracts across the league.

As more players at the quarterback, wide receiver, and linebacker positions begin to get paid by other teams, the Cowboys could be forced to pay significantly more than originally intended to keep Prescott, Lamb, and Parsons around.

Paying three players near the tops of their positions would lock in future success in Dallas by maintaining a minimum level of talent on the roster, but the players around the team’s stars may not have the necessary impact to get the franchise over the hump and into the Super Bowl.

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