Cowboys' bank is closed for now

IRVING, Texas – Miles Austin was the top priority, but he wasn’t the only young player Cowboys management wants to lock up to a long-term extension.

But Austin will have to do for now.

Executive vice president Stephen Jones said he does not anticipate the Cowboys signing another player to a lucrative extension this season due to the collective bargaining agreement uncertainty.

“I felt like there wasn’t going to be a whole lot that we would know [about the collective bargaining agreement],” Jones said. “We’re going to have a lot of guys up unfortunately. Unfortunately, we can’t go do what we normally do. We normally would have signed three or four other guys, but not knowing what the system is going to be, it’s difficult.”

Owner/general manager Jerry Jones has said that the Cowboys hope to keep strong safety Gerald Sensabaugh for a long time. He’s playing on a one-year tender offer.

The Cowboys have three defensive ends – Marcus Spears, Stephen Bowen and Jason Hatcher – who are also playing on one-year tender offers. They can’t afford to lose them all.

Free safety Alan Ball and left tackle Doug Free, new starters the Cowboys consider upgrades over the highly paid players they replaced, also have contracts that expire after this season.

A handful of twentysomething Pro Bowlers – cornerback Mike Jenkins, outside linebacker Anthony Spencer, nose tackle Jay Ratliff and tight end Jason Witten – have outperformed contracts that expire after the 2012 season.

The Cowboys will probably end up keeping the vast majority of the aforementioned players, but the contract negotiations will probably have to wait until after the labor uncertainty is solved.