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FRISCO, Texas — Jason Witten is in no rush to leave the Dallas Cowboys, despite his name being connected to the head-coaching vacancy at his alma mater of Tennessee.

“Coaching is something I can see myself down the road, having one of those opportunities, but right now I’m all in with this team and my feet are planted firmly here and this opportunity that I have in 2017 and getting it right this week,” Witten said. “And not only that, but I really love this team we have and what we’re trying to build and get it right, right now and for beyond, for the future.
“So I feel too good to think that I’d consider something like that at this point.”

Tennessee backed out of an agreement with Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano as its next head coach after backlash from the fans. Witten’s name was mentioned as a possibility by outkickthecoverage.com, which said Witten would be willing to leave immediately to take over at his former school.

Witten, 35, who played for the Volunteers from 2000 to ’02, has a strong relationship with Tennessee athletic director John Currie, and he said they have spoken several times throughout the coaching search process but not recently.

“There’s a lot of smart people around him, and they’re working hard to hire and make the right hire to get our program back,” Witten said. “I’m confident that they’ll do that.”

Witten, who signed a four-year extension in the offseason, is in his 15th season with the Cowboys. He owns the franchise records for receptions, receiving yards, most games played, most games started and consecutive games played, while earning Pro Bowl honors 10 times. He is fourth all time in the NFL in receptions, second among tight ends.

Witten has 50 catches for 429 yards and three touchdowns this season.

He said his focus is on Thursday’s game against the Washington Redskins.

“I have this unbelievable opportunity and I love playing, and I think the people around you can say, ‘Oh maybe one day he’ll be a good coach and consider something like that,’” Witten said. “Certainly I can see that happening down the road, but no time soon. I’m enjoying loving what I’m doing right now.”

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When the NFL convenes for its Dec. 13 meeting in Irving, Texas, there will be an owners-only session that will deal with the impending extension for commissioner Roger Goodell, sources said Thursday.

The session was scheduled after Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones requested a special meeting in front of the full ownership group on Nov. 28 in New York. The Wall Street Journal first reported Jones’ request. The request was denied, but owners will make time for a session in conjunction with the meeting in Irving, sources said.

Jones and the NFL have gone back and forth about the extension talks that have had both sides threatening legal action. He has said he has issues with compensation in the Goodell deal, along with concerns about the escalation of player protests involving the national anthem and how the league has handled them, and he has denied that his objections are tied to Goodell’s decision to suspend Cowboys star running back Ezekiel Elliott for six games over alleged domestic violence.

On Wednesday, The Associated Press obtained a letter sent to Jones from the compensation committee that accused him of “conduct detrimental to the league’s best interest.”

Jones set the table for the special session when, on Wednesday, he distributed the original contract negotiation document with all 32 teams. He acted on his own after his request of the committee to share the information was rejected Tuesday, sources told ESPN.
The document, which the NFL has characterized as outdated, shows the compensation committee on July 25 first proposed a five-year extension for Goodell that included a pay cut of roughly $2.5 million in his average compensation package of $42 million over the past five years.

Goodell’s lawyer countered in early August with a request for an annual package of salary and bonuses totaling $49.05 million, almost $10 million more than the $39.5 million in salary and bonuses that was proposed by the compensation committee. The request drew the lines for the ongoing negotiations that have been unexpectedly contentious and thus far without an agreement, according to a 26-page analysis of the proposals by the committee’s legal and accounting advisers on Aug. 16 and obtained by ESPN.

There have been no additional formal written offers made by either side, sources told ESPN, but the two sides have had numerous discussions in an attempt to complete negotiations on a contract extension for Goodell that would run through March 2023.

Prior to this document being obtained by ESPN, it was believed Goodell currently makes about $30 million per year. An NFL owner told ESPN earlier this week that there are “several owners in this league who don’t make $40 million a year.”

Some owners have said the new pay package being sought by Goodell is “unseemly” and “offensive.” Goodell’s base salary is $3.5 million — and would remain the same under the new contract — but with bonuses from performance incentives, his total compensation package far exceeds the annual salary of the NFL’s highest-paid player.

According to the document, one of the negotiations’ sticking points is the amount of severance that would be paid to Goodell, who intends to retire early after a new collective bargaining agreement is met and new contracts are signed with the NFL’s TV network partners, the document shows. The committee proposes paying Goodell $40 million upon his resignation as commissioner, while he is seeking $62.5 million, according to the document.

The commissioner also has an agreement to serve as a consultant for five years after leaving the NFL for a lump-sum payment of $19 million, the document shows.

In a story Sunday by Peter King of MMQB.com, Goodell was said to be open to a contract with as much as 88 percent in bonuses, saying, “I’m willing to bet on myself.” But in the analysis of both sides’ initial proposals by Daniel J. Ryterband, the chief executive officer of F.W. Cook, Goodell’s counteroffer “includes language that could be interpreted to mitigate the ability of the committee to adjust pay downward (even if performance is poor).”

Chaired by Falcons owner Arthur Blank, members of the compensation committee met Monday via conference call to discuss the latest developments in their negotiations with Goodell. Sources say the contract is moving toward completion despite protestations from Jones, who has threatened to sue several owners and the NFL if Goodell’s contract is approved without the input and final approval of all 32 owners. At the league’s spring meetings in Chicago in May, all 32 owners voted to give the compensation committee the authority to extend Goodell’s deal beyond its expiration date of March 2019.

Under Goodell’s current contract, there is no provision for a non-disparagement clause. But under Goodell’s proposed contract, he asks for a mutual non-disparagement clause. In an analysis of Goodell’s request, the compensation committee’s lawyers wrote, “Is the NFL … willing to provide a mutual non-disparagement which would include owners and executives? Difficult to ‘police’ owners and executives, but could consider limiting it as a requirement to instruct owners and certain executives not to disparage” Goodell.

Goodell has also asked for an “early expiration” of his contract, after the completion of the CBA and media contract negotiations, which he would not exercise until sometime after March 31, 2022, but before the new contract’s expiration two years later. Goodell has asked for a full year’s bonus in the year he leaves early, which could cost the NFL an additional $21.5 million in bonuses, the documents show.
Among other bonuses that Goodell is seeking is a $25 million “performance bonus” for a new CBA with the players’ union and a new round of contracts with the league’s business partners.

Both Jones and the committee’s outside counsel have accused each side of misleading other owners. Sources say Jones believes Blank has not been entirely transparent in communicating the finite details of negotiations when it comes to the incentives and discretionary bonuses. Jones also has complained to other owners that Goodell’s advantage is that he reappointed Blank as the committee chairman to negotiate a contract that was already “one-sided” in favor of the commissioner. Blank has taken affront to the attack, sources said.

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Dallas Cowboys executive Stephen Jones confirmed Monday that Ezekiel Elliott will be training outside the United States during his suspension.

Jones, who made his comments in an interview with 105.3 The Fan in Dallas, didn’t disclose the exact location where the running back is training.

NFL Network first reported the news of Elliott’s plans.
“Actually, I give Zeke credit. This was his idea. He’s wanting to really go to work and not have distractions while he’s not able to play the game. He felt the best way to do that was to get away from this environment … and really work to get himself in the best possible shape,” Jones said.

Jones said Elliott went over his plans with the team’s coaches and strength and conditioning staff, who were comfortable with what they heard.

Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones, Stephen’s father, said Sunday night that he also believed Elliott had a good plan for his time away from the team.

Stephen Jones noted that the Cowboys aren’t permitted to have contact with Elliott during his suspension but was hopeful that the running back will be able to stay in playing shape.

“Certainly it’s not easy when you’re not in a competitive environment, but it sounds like he has a good plan and hopefully one he’ll pull off,” he said.

Elliott, 22, was suspended by commissioner Roger Goodell in August after the league concluded following a yearlong investigation that he had several physical confrontations in the summer of 2016 in Ohio with his girlfriend at the time. The NFL players’ union sued on Elliott’s behalf.

He was able to play in the first eight games through a number of legal decisions, but he lost a temporary administrative stay that kept him on the field in last week’s victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Cowboys missed Elliott in Sunday’s 27-7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, as the team rushed for 107 yards on 21 carries. Alfred Morris led the Cowboys with 53 yards on 11 carries but had just 8 yards on six first-half carries. Elliott had 783 rushing yards in the first eight games of the season, with four straight games of more than 90 yards on the ground.

He will miss at least the next four games, pending a Dec. 1 hearing, and he is likely to miss the next six.

“He’ll be a better person from this and a better player for us when this is all said and done. It will be a life lesson for him and hopefully he’ll come back and take the next chapter,” Stephen Jones said.