Jerry Jones: 'I'm not a good budget guy'

IRVING, Texas -- This isn’t exactly a stunning revelation, but Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones acknowledges that the pesky salary cap gives him problems.

“I’m by nature not a good budget guy,” Jones said during his Friday appearance on KRLD-FM.

As Jones noted, the NFL didn’t have a salary cap when he bought the Cowboys. Jimmy Johnson didn’t have to work with a budget while Jones financed the construction of Dallas’ ‘90s dynasty with a win-at-all-costs mentality.

“I had the attitude when I bought the Cowboys that if you want it, get it and then get in and dig and pay for it,” Jones said. “That’s not budgeting. If they ever cut me open and look at this big heart or whatever it is -- and I’m into this thing lately about physical makeup, you know -- but bottom line is when they see it all scarred up, it’ll be from not budgeting, stepping out, letting my passion go for it and then having to figure out how to pay for it.”

The game has changed, and the Cowboys frequently find themselves scrambling to create cap space during the offseason. That was the case this spring, when they restructured several contracts, including the lucrative extension for declining defensive tackle Jay Ratliff that was signed two years ago but technically starts this season.

Those reconstructions are typically the equivalent of making the minimum payment on a credit card. The Cowboys aren’t saving money. They’re simply pushing money into future budgets, making it extremely difficult to address needs through free agency.

But the Cowboys’ cap problems don’t solely fall at Jerry’s feet. Executive vice president Stephen Jones is more hands-on with the cap than his father.

“Stephen’s a lot smarter than me,” Jones said. “He didn’t get that chemical engineering [degree] because he was working on drawings.”