The salary cap began in 1994, the Cowboys first season without Jimmy Johnson.
Let's pretend that Jerry Jones was realistic about his role and Jimmy's role in the development of that potential dynasty. Jerry relinquishes his position as GM and rightfully offers the position to Jimmy if he agrees to a ten year contract. Let's say Jimmy agrees and is now the GM of the Dallas Cowboys as the NFL enters a new era, the era of the Salary Cap.
This could be controversial. I think Jimmy would have been bottom line. I believe he would not use loyalty as a criteria. I think his logic would have resembled that of Bill Belicek. Contracts would not have been used to reward past achievement. The contract amounts would have mirrored the perceived contribution of the player to future success at market value..
I think Jimmy's handling of the salary cap would have been strictly business, no emotional element other then some regret for not being able to keep a player or two.
Here are some changes I believe Jimmy would have made from what actually happened.
Jimmy would have never signed Dieon Sanders – No way! Not only would Jimmy consider Deion's impact be unequal to his salary, he would not have willingly given up on so many players he could have kept over the years with that salary amount.
Jimmy would never have traded two #1 picks for Joey Galloway. – Jimmy would have acquired most of the talent he needed in the draft. He cherished his #1 picks He might have signed a veteran free agent or two but only if the value was excellent
Jimmy wouldn't have signed Emmitt Smith to a third contract. before the 1996 season – At the very least it he wouldn't have made the 7th year veteran the highest paid player in the NFL at the time and it certainly wouldn't have been an eight year contract. It's possible he may have franchised him for 1996, a year in which Emmitt slid from 4.7 yards a carry to 3.7 yards a carry. Emmitt's prior five season average for yards from scrimmage was 1949 yards and that decreased by almost 500 yards in 1996 to 1453 yards. I tyhink 1996 would have been his last season with the Cowboys.
Jimmy would have been prepared for Troy's retirement – Jimmy would have drafted another QB well ahead of Troy's retirement after 1999. In fact, I doubt Troy would have still been with the Cowboys after the 1998 season. Most likely, his contract would not have been extended at that time.