FRISCO - Gotta tell ya, the last time we played "Dallas Cowboys Murder Mystery,'' it was about as complex as "Encyclopedia Brown.'' (Or, "Nancy Drew,'' if she was your thing. There simply had to be a logical financial reason for Dallas to have signed both kickers Kai Forbath and Greg Zuerlein - and indeed, there is. And contrary to conventional wisdom, once you see the clues ... you see that the Zuerlein signing did not in any way kill Forbath's chances of making the team in 2020. (Read here.)
But our sleuthing wasn't as simple with "The Case of Tyrone Crawford's Non-Renegotiation.'' This was Perry Mason-level ... no, Sherlock Holmes-level. It simply didn't make any sense.
Until it did.
Most nonsensical (no disrespect): Last week, the fine staff at one local media outlet reported the breaking news that the Cowboys definitively would not be asking the veteran D-lineman Crawford for a contract re-do and reduction.
The story cited sources who essentially eliminated the idea of "reducing his $8 million price tag for the upcoming season,'' adding, "If the anticipation was he would have no more than a bit role, club officials would have negotiated to trim his salary by now.''
The outlet was so convinced of it all that it built and re-built its case via a series of tweets from an army of staffers. So, this news angle is ... very out there.
To be clear, these staffers and re-tweeters are all smart, accomplished folks. Good reporters and good people. And retweeting important work? I'm (very much) all for it. (As competitive as we all are in this business, please don't absorb this as a screed against the outlet or its work; it truly is not.) But why was this such an important story to push? And along with that - the question many fans have asked me - why would the Cowboys issue such a public promise to ...
*A good (but not great) player? Crawford is unselfish, versatile and valued. A key leader. The "big brother'' of the D-line group. Inside The Star, the football people and the money people all like him. But premium promises? Weird.
*A veteran coming off double-hip surgery. Why be so vocal about a situation that is something less than 100 percent?
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*A player in Crawford who is a very bright guy who has publicly noted a possible willingness to take a pay reduction if necessary? Even though they have ample cap room at the moment, why wouldn't the Cowboys simply tuck that willingness away and say nothing? Just in case?
I'm telling you, I spent half-a-day racking my brain on this. Yeah, I put in some calls and while I waited on answers, I leaned on, well, instinct, I guess.
Did the outlet make this up? Of course not. So it had to be a mixture of the report being 'true'' but the report's source material being "something less than true,'' because again, there are no normal circumstances under which a solid player coming off an injury like Tyrone Crawford receives this level of kid-glove treatment.
So, I thought ... regarding where the Cowboy are at this moment ... what are the abnormal circumstances? And then it hit me: The Dallas Cowboys' present abnormal circumstances are, obviously, their negotiations with QB Dak Prescott. This is literally the biggest contract the Cowboys have ever done, with all the dollars and sensitivity that goes with it. (I'll continue to stick with our reporting regarding the four vs. five years, the $35 mil APY and the guarantee approaching $110 million. And because the NFL will know its franchise tag number on April 17, I continue to believe we're in "soft-deadline'' area, too.)
The Joneses are negotiating with CAA agent Todd France. He represents Dak.
Todd France also represents ... Tyrone Crawford.
And that's it. The Cowboys, I'm quite sure, intended to send the message, through the media outlet, that they would play nice with France client Crawford ... so as not to mess up their play-nice efforts with France client Prescott.
Cowboys Murder Mystery (II) solved! I predict that at some point, all options will be on the table with the valued Tyrone Crawford - who, by the way, I bet ends up being a 2020 starter - as they are with any good NFL player. I believe Dallas may never suggest an adjustment for fear TC will call their bluff and scoot.
But at this sensitive moment? What's on the table is smiley faces and good vibes and happy-talk articles ... to smooth any bumps in the path toward a Dak deal.