When the details of Henry Melton’s new deal were made public, fans and media everywhere replied with a collective,
“Whaaa?? We’re talking about the Cowboys, right? Stephen must have done this because it’s too good to be Jerry’s work?”
Indeed it was true. The Cowboys signed a coveted free agent to a team-friendly low-risk/high-reward contract. The team synonymous with bad deals just signed the deal of the offseason. It’s no wonder everyone was baffled.
In these types of situations people seem to scramble for answers to explain. A common explanation is crediting Stephen Jones for the deal. Jerry was away for once and Stephen finally got to run things his way, they say.
While not entirely untrue, it’s also a bit of a stretch and a little dangerous to black and white the situation. It’s human nature to try to classify people. Bad guys do bad things and good guys do good things. When someone breaks from the script we have a difficult time accepting it. It’s only natural.
When Jerry, a bad GM, did something dumb, he was easy to blame because that’s what he did – dumb things. But the trouble comes when something good happens at the hands of a bad GM (or vice versa). It simply doesn’t compute. We must find an explanation. Jerry’s good move must be discredited and credit must be placed elsewhere. Again, it’s human nature.
The problem arises when Stephen gets all the credit without any of the blame. Passing out all the blame to Jerry and all of the credit to Stephen, gives Stephen an undeserved free pass.
The exact power dynamic is slightly unknown at Valley Ranch. We know Jerry is technically the GM but we also know Stephen oversees most real GM responsibilities. Stephen has also long been the Cowboys cap manager. He works the contracts and manages the short and long term health of the Cowboys Salary Cap situation.
The same salary cap situation that looms over the Cowboys today.
Stephen probably did have a lot to do with Henry Melton’s team-friendly contract (but not as much as Rod Marinelli). But Stephen can’t be given a free pass for his sins of yesterday. He has been handling the contracts for at least the past decade. The Cowboys have had more cap problems than I care to rehash in that time.
Credit Stephen for the deal. Credit Stephen for learning. But don’t forget Stephen is more like Jerry than unlike Jerry at this point. He has plenty of time to continue his maturation and change, but we cannot forget the past.
I previously referred to this offseason as the Era of Fiscal Responsibility. That doesn’t mean it’s here to stay and that doesn’t mean Jerry and/or Stephen have necessarily learned their lessons. From a management perspective, things look like they are improving and it appears Stephen is slowing taking on more and more responsibility. I’m cautiously optimistic about Stephen and the future of the Dallas Cowboys but I refuse to give him a free pass for the past.
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