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Monday, May 31, 2010
Jerry can be patient with Austin, Sensabaugh

By Tim MacMahon

Jerry Jones reiterated “emphatically” last week that he considers Miles Austin and Gerald Sensabaugh to be important parts of the Cowboys’ long-term future.

Jerry just isn’t in any hurry to work out the contractual details to ensure that’s the case.

There’s no need to rush. Jerry can afford to be patient due to the two starters’ status as restricted free agents. There has been discussion with both players’ representatives about long-term deals, but it’s doubtful that anything gets done before the season, unless the players are willing to take team-friendly deals.

Jerry has been burned recently by signing players at those positions to big-money deals. Receiver Roy Williams has been a huge disappointment after getting a six-year, $54 million deal, and he’s likely to be gone when the guaranteed money is done at the end of this season. Ken Hamlin didn’t make it to the third season of his six-year, $39 million deal, but he cashed $13.9 million worth of checks the last two seasons for so-so safety play.

Do you blame Jerry for being patient when the Cowboys have all the leverage?

Sensabaugh was solid in his first season with the Cowboys – and a vast upgrade in coverage -- despite playing most of the season with a cast to protect his broken thumb. He’ll have to prove he can be a playmaker to get anything close to Hamlin’s contract, but there's no question that his tender offer of $1.8 million is a bargain.

Austin, who has yet to sign his tender offer of $3.16 million, went from a no-name to a Pro Bowler last season. If he proves that he’s no one-year wonder, Jerry will happily make him one of the higher-paid receivers in the league. As was the case with Tony Romo, Austin could cash in around the middle of his first full season as a starter.

Jerry has seen enough from Austin and Sensabaugh to know they fit in the team's long-term plans. He apparently wants to see a little more before committing to market-rate investments on either player.