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Smith ends holdout

DALLAS -- Two-time defending NFL rushing champion Emmitt Smith ended his holdout Thursday by signing a contract with the Dallas Cowboys that will reportedly bring him $13.6 million over the next four years.

Smith is expected to see action, although possibly only limited playing time, when the defending Super Bowl champions try to end their two-game losing streak against the Phoenix Cardinals Sunday night.

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'Anybody making that kind of money isn't going to be on the sidelines,' said Dallas quarterback Troy Aikman, one of many Cowboys who expressed frustration at the absence of the team's star running back.

Smith reportedly will receive a $4 million signing bonus and a salary broken down over the next four years of $3 million, $2.2 million, $2.4 million and $2 million. That means by the end of this season, Smith will have earned $7 million under his new contract.

Smith signed the contract at a news conference at Texas Stadium and Jones then signed the bonus check and handed it to the running back.

'Are you happy?' Jones asked Smith after the signing.

'Very much,' Smith answered.

'I am, too,' Jones said.

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Jones said he did not think there were any winners or losers in the settlement.

'We are asking Emmitt to sign for four years,' Jones said, handing Smith the pen to do so. 'And when he does that, the Cowboys are the winners. And when I sign this check (the signing bonus), he is a winner.

'Emmitt would have liked to have had more money and I would like to have paid less money. We came to a compromise.

'Emmitt represents a cornerstone of this franchise. We know his contribution and we know what he can do for the future. Emmitt, throughout these negotiations, has been as efficient and as classy as he is on the football field.

'We are not only excited him about having him back, we know it is special for the NFL to have him back on the field.

'We have come up with an agreement that is everything I hoped it would be. The structure of the contract is that it has a lot of front end dollars. Normally, that is poor business, but it is great under the current system (in which a salary cap will be in effect next year).'

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Smith said he had tried to stay in condition during the holdout, but that backup running back Derrick Lassic should start when the Cowboys play at Phoenix Sunday night.

'I've been training and I've been running,' he said. 'I will wear pads for the first time since January when I go to practice tomorrow. I think Derrick Lassic should start against Phoenix. I think there is a possibility I could hurt the team more than I could help it if I play.

'I haven't talked to the coaches at all. I don't have the slightest idea what the game plan is for Sunday. But, yes, I could learn it.'

The Cowboys have a week off after the Phoenix game.

'I'm very glad to be back in Dallas,' Smith said. 'I'm back in the city where I want to play ball. Hopefully we can get this thing turned around and get back on the winning track.'

Over the past two seasons, Smith has gained 3,276 yards and scored 30 touchdowns.

Other NFL clubs could have offered Smith a contract prior to the start of training camp, although the Cowboys had the right to match any offer. But no other teams made an offer to Smith.

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