Cowboys in negotiations with Dak Prescott, Cooper

And we're off: The Dallas Cowboys have begun contract negotiations with two of their offensive triplets -- Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper -- executive vice president Stephen Jones said Wednesday.

Jones told reporters at the team's annual golf outing at Cowboys Golf Club that the team is still interested in extending running back Ezekiel Elliott at some point, but is focusing its energy on re-signing the two playmakers whose deals expire after the 2019 season, per ESPN's Todd Archer.

Making sure all three stars are paid in full and their worth will be difficult, a truth that Jones said he will impart on Prescott, Cooper and eventually Elliott ahead of negotiations.

"As I told DeMarcus Lawrence, and I'll tell all three of these guys: I'd love for you to max out and give you exactly what you want, because y'all have worked hard and you deserve to have a big contract," Jones said. "But if we want to put together the type of team we want to have with the Cowboys...

"That's not their job. It's not their job to manage the cap; I understand that. But it is my job and [owner Jerry Jones'] job, so they will understand why we're negotiating hard to make the very best deal we can. Because the money, if we can talk them into not maxing out -- doing well, but not maxed -- then that allows us to have other good football players around them."

Prescott and Cooper's rookie contracts both expire after 2019 and both are due pay raises. Former Raiders receiver Cooper is set to earn $13.9 million on the fifth-year of his first-round rookie deal and could earn nearly $18 million per year on a new contract. A fourth-round quarterback, Prescott is slated to make just over $2 million in 2019, but could be seeking upward of $30 million per year in extension negotiations, nearing or exceeding the rate set by Russell Wilson last month.

Elliott's rookie deal, meanwhile, won't expire until following the 2020 season after Dallas picked up his fifth-year option. Jones said last week that the 'Boys have "a couple years" to extend Zeke, whom they considered "the straw ... that stirs our drink."

The Cowboys executive offered that same line of thinking this week.

"Zeke, as we all know, he's such an important player to this organization," Jones said. "He's a guy that we want to have here long term. The only reason you say, 'Well, maybe he's not at the front, front [of the list],' is because he's got this year, then he's got another year at his tender.

"These things can take time. But Zeke's every bit as important, and then you start going down the line, whether it's a Byron Jones, a La'el Collins, and these guys coming up, Jaylon Smith. I mean these are all players that we'll need to address at some point in time, and they're all players that we've drafted, that we've developed, that we think are the right kind of guys that play our defense, play our offense the way we want to play. Certainly guys we want to keep. It's a great problem to have because we do have good young football players, but it's also a challenge."

Having this many good, extension-worthy rising stars is a good problem for Jones and the 'Boys to have, but one that will need a calculated solution this offseason that leaves everyone the most satisfied. Or, at least, the least unsatisfied.

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