ARLINGTON - Jerry Jones' new on-the-record approach to the Ezekiel Elliott stalemate? It's not how he and the Dallas Cowboys start; it's how the two-time NFL rushing champion and the title-hopeful Cowboys finish.
That's the logic, however warped you think it might be, from management's angle.
But it's not nearly as warped as Zeke's angle as represented by the stooge Marshall Faulk.
"We may very well play without a player that's not coming in on his contract,'' Jones told "Shan & RJ'' on 105.3 The Fan on Tuesday, later adding, "We've got a marathon here. We want Zeke when we get to the playoffs.''
Translating Jerry? As much as the Cowboys would like to have the holdout running back sign the "close-to-Gurley'' offer that is presently on the table, they can stick to their guns now because Weeks 1, 2 and 3 (against the Giants, Redskins and Dolphins) seem winnable even without Elliott ... but contending for the Super Bowl without him is another story.
If that Weeks 1-2-3 issue is in Jerry's mind? Well, it's a dangerous way to think -- and maybe even an unprecedented one. But in all my 35 years of covering NFL contract negotiations, I can tell you what is definitely unprecedented:
A former NFL star (Faulk) joining forces with a holdout NFL star (Elliott) and opting to represent the latter by taking outrageous digs at the latter's present friends and teammates.
Faulk is making the national media rounds, calling QB Dak Prescott (one of Zeke's best friends) a "bum'' and questioning the value of linebacker Jaylon Smith. Saying stupid things on NFL Network, as Marshall did few a few seasons before he was fired is now, sadly, part of the media word. But saying stupid things -- wildly inappropriate things -- while ostensibly serving as Zeke's spokesman?
That's far more dangerous than Jerry Poppins' always-high confidence level.
During Wednesday's Kickoff Luncheon, Jerry told the media when asked for a negotiation update, "I don't have anything to report there, No, we don't have anything to report on our contract negotiations.''
That's a smart comment right now, because it serves a greater good. In truth, there is "something to report'' -- which we did on Tuesday, when at 6:48 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan and here at CowboyMaven we broke the story of Dallas making a new "Gurley-like'' offer to Elliott. (One of the local newspapers attempted to discount our report that day, labeling it "nurting'' ... whatever that means. That newspaper has now on Thursday printed a story that mimics exactly the details it was scoffing at as "nurting'' before. Oh well.)
Faulk's comments? I think they are only self-serving.
Why doesn't Elliott's agent, Rocky Arceneaux, reel in Faulk (who is also represented by Rocky)? Who is in charge here?
If St. Louis kid Zeke, St. Louis legend Marshall and their agent Rocky have all been sitting around the living room in Rocky's Cabo getaway property meticulously orchestrating Faulk's offensive media barrage, that's a bad look for an agent.
If Faulk is saying these things because he's "gone rogue'' and Rocky isn't really in charge of his mouth? That's a worse look for an agent.
But ... what if Faulk is saying these things to help Faulk and Arceneaux ... with little regard for how it impacts Zeke?
That'd be the grimiest look of all for the agent.
The simplest explanation for Zeke 'advisor' Marshall Faulk's outrageous comments? Faulk needs a job in media - and believes the shortest path to a paycheck is being a shock jock.
So he (and the agent?) create the appearance that Faulk is a colorful and opinionated talker. Elliott -- maybe naively -- goes along with the plan, unaware of the negative consequences that the plan could lead to for him.
And Faulk gets a new job. With the agent getting the commission.
Oh, and Zeke, we'll get around to you (and the agent's commission) in a sec.
Here's the thing: Faulk is not an agent. He's not a lawyer. He's not an especially skilled spokesman. He's not a scout. He's not a coach. He's not a team executive. Is he even a trainer, as was his initially-announced role in the Zeke camp? I'm betting Elliott has people close to him, who care about him, suddenly wondering what is the true purpose of Marshall Faulk's involvement here.
Did the agent orchestrate this mess? Or just allow it to happen? And either way, why does the "Zeke camp'' increasingly sound like it's not all about Zeke?