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It's no secret the Dallas Cowboys love what they've seen thus far from Aldon Smith. The former All-Pro has been slowed by an ailment or two the past few weeks, including what's been described as a jammed neck, but he's yet to miss a single game in his return to the NFL from an indefinite suspension that kept him out of football from 2015 to this year. The injuries have slowed him a bit though, his snap count dropping from a season-high mark of 84% in Week 5 to an average of 65.75% over the most recent four outings, with only part of the reason due to the return of Randy Gregory.

Prior to the slowdown, Smith led the league in sacks with four through the first three games of the season, besting T.J. Watt and others in that category. He's still producing pressure on a regular basis, and that combined with the fact he's been a model citizen both in the locker room and off the field as he continues his battle with alcoholism and depression means the Cowboys are ready to commit to a long-term deal to keep him in North Texas for the foreseeable future.

The Cowboys began pondering a potential extension as early as late September, sources told CBS Sports at the time, and owner Jerry Jones now confirms the report roughly two months later, after also refusing to trade Smith before the NFL deadline.

"Yes," Jones told 105.3FM the Fan when asked if the front office has begun eyeing a new deal with Smith. "And the idea here is that Aldon is getting better. He's a bigger man than he was when he played earlier in his career. But that has a lot of positives to it, too. 

"Every time he's stepping out there he's gaining on it, and that's interesting to be at this stage of his career. He's an absolute unique-in-every-way pressure player. We want to maximize our relationship with him. We've all got a good one with him."

The bottom line is Jones wants Smith in a Cowboys uniform for a long time.

"Proud of him," Jones furthered. "Proud that he's given himself this chance and we're going to help him do it. So, as I've said earlier, I'm a fan of his."

In signing Smith to his one-year deal earlier this offseason, the team structured his contract to ensure payouts for reporting to training camp on time and continuing his progress, and they found themselves proud of not only his attendance but also the fact he dominated in ways that would suggest he was never indefinitely suspended in the first place. His current deal pays him a base salary of $2 million, with another $2 million tied to incentives. For perspective, his salary is just $100,000 more than punter Chris Jones, and there is no guaranteed money in the deal, an absolute steal for what he brings to the table. 

He received a $90,000 kick when he was reinstated, an additional $50,000 thirty days later, another $100,000 when he reported to camp on time and a final $100,000 at the end of August when he made the final roster. Smith has gone from sleeping under his car two years ago to proving the Cowboys correct for choosing to roll the dice on him, his potency in camp leading Dak Prescott to label him "a monster."

Sources also tell CBS Sports both sides are "highly motivated" to make a new deal happen -- although publicly, Smith is sticking to the pre-canned message of focusing on trying to win games right now -- and technically the Cowboys don't have to wait until the season is over to do so. 

They potentially will though, considering they're still trying to squirrel away money for the looming Prescott talks that might force them to use a second franchise tag to buy themselves more time to negotiate. That could impact the timing of a potential deal on Smith, but the Pro Bowler has loyalties in Dallas -- i.e., defensive line coach Jim Tomsula and now Mike McCarthy -- who are responsible for the Cowboys giving him a chance in 2020 when no one else would.

That alone could make him more amicable to team-friendly pricing, or at least that's what Jones hopes. And while Smith is 31 years old, his football age is closer to 26 or 27 due to a near half-decade hiatus from the game. If the Cowboys can avoid letting him hit free agency in 2021 and secure him on a two- or three-year deal, they could do away with having to use a premium draft pick on an unproven edge rusher in April, especially considering the return of Gregory and the potential of a yet-unleashed Bradlee Anae

Now all the Cowboys have to do is close the deal -- something they've been hit-or-miss on lately.