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Cowboys being patient in negotiations with CeeDee Lamb

Jerry Jones made clear Tuesday that the Cowboys want to Dak Prescott as their quarterback long term, but the owner warned that it will come with a price. A new contract for Prescott will mean a lesser supporting cast.

The Cowboys lost left tackle Tyron Smith, center Tyler Biadasz and running back Tony Pollard, among others, this offseason. The only outside free agents they signed were linebacker Eric Kendricks and running back Royce Freeman.

So, does a new contract for Prescott cost the Cowboys CeeDee Lamb?

Lamb is not participating in the Cowboys’ voluntary offseason program as he seeks a new deal that will make him one of the highest-paid receivers in the NFL. He is set to make $17.99 million this year on the fifth-year option and is eligible for the franchise tag in 2025.

“I think CeeDee’s one of the best players in the NFL,” Jones said, via Jon Machota of TheAthletic.com. “I think he’s very instrumental because of his position to quarterback success, personally. I think if you look at the complementary football, he does it all there for you. He’s multifaceted in where we can line him up, the type of things we can use him for. He’s dedicated in his practice and he’s sound physically. That puts him really right there at the top as far as a player. I guess the answer is without saying anymore, I think he’s one of the top players in the NFL.”

Lamb and Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson both are waiting for new deals, which complicates both their situations. Bengals receiver Ja’Marr Chase also is seeking a long-term extension. All three hope to reset the market.

Dolphins receiver Tyreek Hill’s $30 million a year average is the highest at the position currently.

“You don’t think the representatives of Jefferson and CeeDee and [Chase] aren’t talking? You don’t think they got their eye on something really big? Please,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said, via Todd Archer of ESPN. “They’re not ready to come in here. Same thing with Micah [Parsons]. Same thing with Dak. It’s a little cat and mouse. And total respect for them.”

Lamb led the league with 135 catches for 1,749 yards and 12 touchdowns last season in earning All-Pro honors for the first time.

The Cowboys are intentionally being deliberate on deals for Prescott, Lamb and Parsons, Jerry Jones said.

“We’d like to see some more leaves fall,” Jerry Jones said. “We’d like to see some more action. It’s called option quarterback. . . . That’s working the problem. I’ve spent my life being an option quarterback. I can go all the way out to the sideline and still have a pitch in me. I can do that, and that’s just a style that you have. So, you never know. You may give money to somebody that you shouldn’t have given it to.

“To say that you’re not working on it and going is not the right answer. It’s on your mind. It’d be madness not to know that the contracts are ahead. I want to see a few more cards played, candidly. If you got trouble with when the timing is around here, it’s because I’m not ready to go.”