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Please Keep Your Checkbook Closed, Jerry

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For once, why don't you keep your checkbook closed, Jerry? Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images.
For once, why don't you keep your checkbook closed, Jerry? Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images.

The recent restructuring of Doug Free’s contract along with a couple of other pending adjustments has the Dallas Cowboys back under the salary cap somewhere between $5-10 million depending on how the math works out. Which has begged the question in some circles: what should Dallas do with the leftover cash? One suggestion has been to extend the contracts of Sean Lee and Dez Bryant with the excess funds and, on the surface, that sounds like a pretty smart move. But that is the crux of the Dallas Cowboys’ problem that has hung over the franchise for nearly 20 years now.

Owner Jerry Jones spends money on players today like he did in his early ownership years. The difference being that back then, there was no salary cap. So owners like Jones and San Francisco’s Eddie DeBartolo Jr. just opened up their checkbooks from the Bank of Endless Money and bought the best players in the league (and paid them the kind of money that would make Scrooge McDuck look like a pauper). The salary cap was designed to reign in owners like Jones and DeBartolo and let the other teams have a chance at signing quality players. Unfortunately, the cap doesn’t seem to have slowed down Jones in the least, and he has continued to overspend on his roster every year.

Money, it seems, burns a hole in Jerry’s pocket if it lingers there too long.

And so, every year Dallas starts off with cap concerns, contract restructuring and having to settle for less at some positions because the money just isn’t there. So here’s a thought for owner Jerry to consider as he looks at the ledger. Tell GM Jones that the checkbook is closed for the remainder of the 2013 season and that he will have to make do with what he has already spent. If the current roster is good enough to win and make the postseason, then good; if not, so be it.

Either way, GM Jones has to quit spending owner Jones’ money and learn how to assemble a strong roster within the budget. The problem is that this mode of operation runs counter to everything that made Jones into the successful businessman he is. Add to that Jones’ refusal to believe he is not as good a football talent evaluator as he thinks he is, and you have the reason why Dallas has one playoff victory in the past 17 seasons.

Either Jones has to finally learn the job of an NFL GM correctly or hire someone who understands how to build a team in today’s NFL. No matter which direction owner Jones goes, keeping his money in his pocket and trusting it will not erupt in a ball of flame is the best first step for now.