OXNARD, Calif. — The Saints' signing of receiver Michael Thomas to a record-setting five-year, $100 million contract extension Tuesday is believed to be the falling of one of two dominoes that will help hasten a deal between Amari Cooper and the Cowboys.
But it's also another case in which other deals getting done has driven up the price tag for Dallas in its quest to sign their stars to contract extensions.
Cooper is now looking at a deal for possibly $18 million annually, a far cry from what they expected to pay him when they traded for him last October and began talking contract after the 2018 season.
It's the same case for quarterback Dak Prescott, whom the Cowboys had been talking about signing to an extension since last February but have watched the market go up considerably thanks to deals for Seattle's Russell Wilson, Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger and Philadelphia's Carson Wentz.
So it begs the question why did the Cowboys allow themselves to be put in the position of reacting to the market and thus costing themselves more money, rather than getting deals done early?
"We can't push the issue unless we want to be a market-setter," vice president Stephen Jones said on KTCK-AM 1310 Tuesday. "And we're damn sure not going to be a market-setter because of all the things that go with being a Dallas Cowboy.
"We want our players to feel good about their contracts. But at the same time, we don't want to do things that are out of line because we can't afford to be that way. When we save money, whether it's with Dak, whether it's with Zeke, whether it's with Amari, it's not saving Jerry and I a dollar. It's just money that's going to another player."
It sounds good.
But the question left unanswered is how have the Cowboys saved money by waiting?
Cooper and Prescott are not getting less money.
And running back Ezekiel Elliott is currently holding out in a contract dispute in a quest to reset the market and become the highest paid player at his position.
Jones spoke of saving money for future deals for players like tackle La'el Collins, cornerback Byron Jones and linebacker Jaylon Smth.
The Cowboys have no realistic plans of keep Collins because of the money already spent on tackle Tyron Smith, guard Zack Martin and center Travis Frederick.
Jones is coming off hip surgery and could be franchised in 2020 and the Smith is a restricted free agent in 2020.
Jones is the most immediate concern and he still has something to prove before he cashes in.