Roger Goodell signed an extension last week that could be worth up to $200 million, but Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones put forth a resolution to table the contract talks for six months prior to the agreement, according to a confidential memo obtained by ESPN.
Although there is nothing that can undo Goodell's contract, the resolution will allow Jones to raise his concerns about the commissioner's authority pertaining to league discipline and other issues at the NFL's Special League Meeting on Wednesday in Irving, Texas.
Asked if that was the expectation, an NFL spokesperson said, "There is time on the agenda for all the owners to hear from the compensation committee." Jones is not a member of the league's compensation committee.
The Cowboys did not respond to a request for comment.
Goodell was asked Monday morning if he has spoken with Jones and if they are "okay." Goodell's response, via CNBC: "Yes. Oh sure."
Jones' proposal, on page 10 of the 32-page agenda for this week's league meeting, was submitted on Dec. 1, titled Proposed Resolution 2017 G-7, by the Dallas Cowboys. In it, Jones argued for a six-month "moratorium on any and all actions taken pursuant" to Goodell's new contract, "specifically, that the Commissioner's extension is not finalized during such moratorium."
Jones asked for a vote on the resolution to be taken under secret ballot, which is normally reserved for only the most critical league matters. Pro Football Talk reported in November that Jones planned to introduce a secret-ballot measure.
Jones spent the past few weeks trying to build support to delay or derail Goodell's contract. But in the end, one of the most powerful men in American sports was able to amass only a group of approximately five owners to be on his side.
"The owners who supported [Jones] are not exactly influencers and arm-twisters," one owner said. "They're just happy that Jerry wanted to talk to them."
Owners last Wednesday overwhelmingly supported Goodell's extension, a heavily incentive-based deal worth approximately $40 million annually and running through 2023. Sources say that Arthur Blank, the owner of the Atlanta Falcons and chairman of the compensation committee, which was authorized in May to extend Goodell's contract, had told owners in private conversations in the lead-up to the deal that Jones had assured him that if he didn't have the votes, he would back down. Many owners believe that pledge was not made in good faith and see his failure to withdraw his resolution for Wednesday as proof.
Jones "went back on his word," an owner said.
Jones has been a vocal advocate of delaying Goodell's extension, complaining about the high price tag of the deal and his view that there has been a lack of transparency by Blank in negotiating it. This season, Jones has been angry over Goodell's handling of the player protests during the national anthem and the domestic violence case of Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. Outside the Lines reported last month that on Aug. 9, when Goodell told Jones that Elliott would be suspended for violating the player conduct policy, Jones replied by saying, "I'm going to come at you with everything I have." Elliott is currently serving a six-game suspension.
In early November, Jones hired famed attorney David Boies as a threat to sue the league if the compensation committee approved Goodell's extension, an extension that all owners, including Jones, authorized in May. No suit was ever brought. However, Jones successfully delayed Goodell's extension; many owners expected that it would be approved months ago.
But now it is done, easing the tension that was expected at this week's meeting in Irving. Many ownership and league sources say they now suspect that Jones and other owners will push for significant staffing changes among the league's executive vice presidents and for changes to how Goodell handles player disciplinary matters.
But with the contract done, the only question, as an owner told ESPN, is when Jones speaks during the one-per-club meeting on Wednesday, "Will he be entertaining, or will he fall flat?"