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Cowboys’ Will McClay says “it’s going to be a tough deal” to pay everyone

Charean Williams

Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said Tuesday the team’s “No. 1 priority” is to sign quarterback Dak Prescott to a long-term deal, and owner Jerry Jones added he’s ready to sign the check.

The Cowboys’ No. 2 priority is receiver Amari Cooper, Stephen Jones said.

So where does that leave other key free agents such as cornerback Byron Jones?

“I think it’s going to be a tough deal,” Cowboys vice president of player personnel Will McClay said Wednesday, via Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News. “It’s the NFL. You’ve got your quarterback you’ve got to pay. You have a receiver. You have good players. When you have good players, you have to figure out how to pay them or how to survive. So, that’s what we do in the front office is try to figure how to work those contracts and get the best possible team with those guys. We’ve got to go through that whole process.”

The reality is: The Cowboys will let several good players walk. They have no choice with the big deals for Prescott and Cooper looming.

The team will be hard pressed to re-sign Jones.

Jones, a first-round pick in 2015, made Pro Bowl honors for the first time in 2018. He did not play as well in 2019, has made only two career interceptions and has only five career takeaways.

Jones’ last interception came in 2017 when he still played safety.

“He’s a starting-caliber NFL corner. A really good player,” McClay said. “We have to figure out his financial value and if it fits for us.”

Tight end Jason Witten, defensive end Robert Quinn, defensive lineman Michael Bennett, defensive tackle Maliek Collins, receiver Randall Cobb, linebacker Sean Lee and safety Jeff Heath are other free agents.

“Every year is a challenge,” McClay said, via Jon Machota of TheAthletic.com. “That’s the way the NFL is made with the salary cap. . . .We go through and find out what’s valuable for us, who will fit within our parameters. We want to try to fill the holes in free agency and draft free.”