ARLINGTON, Texas -- At times this summer, Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones has sounded carefree when discussing the possibility of Ezekiel Elliott missing time in training camp and the regular season in a contract holdout.
With the regular season set to start Sept. 8 against the New York Giants, Jones was asked at what point does it become urgent to get Elliott in the fold.
"Again, I don't want to sound like it's not important for him to be here. I think it is important for him to be here or we wouldn't be having everybody be here, everybody getting some work in," Jones said after Saturday's preseason win against the Houston Texans at AT&T Stadium. "Everything about this is important. Everybody does understand it. It's just a question of seeing if it works. But you know, we're going to play football one way or the other. That's the way it works."
In 1993, the Cowboys opened with back-to-back losses as Emmitt Smith was in a contract dispute with the team. Smith returned and the Cowboys ended up winning the Super Bowl.
Jones remains confident a deal can be worked out with Elliott, who is under contract for two more years. The Cowboys have made an offer to Elliott that ranks between the $13.125 million average salary the New York Jets have given Le'Veon Bell and the $14.375 million average salary the Los Angeles Rams are paying Todd Gurley.
The sides have not had meaningful discussions recently.
"In terms of off the field, what you want is everybody under contract, and everybody is under contract that makes the squad, lining up against the Giants. That is the goal," Jones said. "It's a very tangible thing. Everybody under contract playing. When you don't have everybody under contract playing, then you're dealing with a blowout or you're dealing with a flat tire someplace and you try to get it fixed. But you've got to play, and you do play."
The Cowboys are also negotiating a deal for Dak Prescott, but Jones said he does not believe the quarterback would be affected going into the season without a contract extension.
"He hasn't done anything but take every challenge, physically and mentally, so far at Oxnard, so he'll sure do it as the season goes ahead," Jones said. "It's in all that interest. Everybody's boat for the Cowboys, if we could have that great year, we'd go to the stratosphere, and Dak and I would be riding with them."