The Cowboys continue to be flummoxed by the refusal of three high-profile offensive players to take their “generous” offers. And so the Cowboys are doing whatever they have to do to get those players to conclude that they shouldn’t insist on every last dollar they can get.
Even though they should.
On Wednesday, Cowboys COO Stephen Jones ventured into delicate territory by inserting the team into the relationship between players and their agents.
“I have a lot of respect for, you know, most agents,” Jones told reporters, via Jason Owens of Yahoo Sports. “I really do. I think they’re trying to do their job for these players. But I do think sometimes they don’t have the end game that maybe the players should and we do.”
Basically, Jones believes that the agents’ focus on maximum the value of a short-term contract minimizes the effort of the player to achieve his long-term goals.
“I think sometimes our players have to realize that their representatives don’t always have what’s in the best interest, getting the very most they can for the players may not be in the interest of their long-term future if they want to – and I’m totally [convinced] all our players do — want to win championships and keep these young players right now. I don’t think the representatives, and they’re all good ones, feel like that’s their problem.”
Stephen Jones isn’t necessarily wrong; indeed, some agents have shrugged at a player’s chance of winning a Super Bowl because they don’t get three percent of the ring. But Stephen Jones is definitely the wrong person to be making this argument. Between agents and teams, agents ALWAYS are more concerned about boosting the players’ best interests. The teams are interested only in their own best interests, and they will bench, cut, trade, etc. any player the moment that the player no longer can help the team.
That’s true regardless of whether the player hires an agent on a percentage-based fee, retains a lawyer at an hourly rate, or negotiates the deal on his own. The goal for the player in every case is, or at least should be, to secure maximum compensation for the abilities, sacrifices, and risks undertaken by NFL players, both short-term and long-term. Now more than ever, given all we know about the very real health effects of the sport, football players should in every instance strive to get the most they can for playing football.
As players like Peyton Manning and Darrelle Revis firmly believed, it’s their job to get the most money, and it’s the team’s job to manage the salary cap. The Cowboys want to make their job of fitting a bunch of great players under the salary cap easier by saying and doing anything they can to get their players to take less. It’s one thing, however, to suggest that there’s an inherent value to being a Dallas Cowboy. It’s quite another to pretend that the team cares about the player more than his agent does.
Indeed, only one day before Stephen Jones suggested that the teams has the players’ best interests in mind, his father made it clear that it’s all about the team.
“The team takes precedent at a point over the opinion or the demand of the individual,” Jerry Jones said at the press conference unveiling a team-friendly deal for linebacker Jaylon Smith that, given his injury history, he was not inclined to reject. “The team takes precedent. This was a team move we are talking about today. The team takes precedent, and I’ve got the backbone to keep it that way.”
Jerry has the backbone to keep it that way (until he doesn’t), and Stephen is trying to make the players’ knees wobbly by suggesting that they shouldn’t listen to the efforts of those who have been hired to get them the best deals possible. This tactic demonstrates why all players need good agents; if given the chance, any NFL team will run roughshod financially over any and every player, paying as little as possible — especially when trying to keep a broad nucleus of talent in place.