The Cowboys are in a luxurious position of featuring young, affordable talent on their roster.
That same group of talent will soon require Dallas to ante up. Superb youngsters Micah Parsons, CeeDee Lamb and Trevon Diggs are among those who will be up for new deals in the next two years, and with Dak Prescott's contract set to expire after the 2024 season, Dallas is facing an expensive couple of offseasons.
Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones isn't too worried about Dallas' future spending spree.
"I feel like as we move forward it will all be about timing, but we feel like we can work within the parameters of the cap and make those type of things happen," Jones said on Wednesday, via ESPN.
Each of these players are currently essential pieces. Because he's headed toward free agency in 2024, Diggs is first up on the list, followed closely by Lamb -- whose fifth-year option was picked up by Dallas this offseason -- and Prescott. Last on the list is Parsons, who cannot take a seat at the negotiating table until after 2023.
Based on current market rates, the combination will likely cost Dallas $100 million or more per year to keep. It's a daunting number for a franchise that had to say goodbye to Amari Cooper in 2022 due to cap reasons and cut Ezekiel Elliott in 2023 to save money.
"We want to work on all of the above, but we'll just have to see how this thing plays out," Jones said. "You can't dictate when things happen and the timing. It takes two sides. For them to want to sign up, they've got to be happy where it is. And vice versa. But I wouldn't say just because we don't get it done by the start of the season doesn't mean we're not going to ultimately sign them."
The football world is still working its way back from the slog that was Lamar Jackson's prolonged negotiations with Baltimore, and while the same process isn't anticipated from any of these players in Dallas, it's typically not something that is sorted out overnight. We're not yet near the 11th hour, either, giving the players in question room to speak vaguely on these matters while expressing their love for Dallas.
Part of that estimated $100 million includes the going rate of $50 million or more per year at quarterback. That's not to say Prescott is necessarily worth top dollar, but after signing a four-year, $160 million deal in 2021, he'll likely expect to enter that range, even if his performance hasn't quite matched such compensation.
The $100 million also includes an increasingly expensive receiver market that saw the Dolphins' Tyreek Hill break the $30 million per year mark in 2022, and a cornerback market currently headlined by Green Bay's Jaire Alexander at $21 million per year. With those numbers, Dallas is already over $100 million before even considering Parsons' deal.
Still, Jones feels all right about the Cowboys' financial outlook.
"It's not daunting," Jones said. "I think it's doable. It's just part of managing your football team, a part of managing the salary cap. But I certainly think it's doable."
The most challenging part of the team-building process is identifying and acquiring top-tier talent throughout the roster. Player retention, while growing increasingly difficult, usually comes down to prioritization of talent alongside a cap that is nearly guaranteed to increase over time.
The Cowboys can't guarantee they'll retain all four of these players. But as long as they're on their roster, Dallas has a chance -- and they're aren't going to lose sleep over the future.