Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said the team wants a long-term contract with quarterback Tony Romo because he's the key piece to moving toward a championship.

"Tony is a key piece of what we're about going forward," Jones said Tuesday. "We're certainly going to be looking at his situation (in) time. We've historically (extended contracts) with quarterbacks for the Dallas Cowboys ahead of time. We did it with Troy (Aikman) and we certainly want to look at that with Tony so we can all move forward in terms of how we want to play around our salary cap with our team. Tony is the key piece in terms of how your cap is represented."

Romo, in the last year of his contract, is scheduled to earn a base salary of $11.5 million in 2013. His salary cap figure is a team-high $16.8 million.

The Cowboys, like all NFL teams, have until March 12 to get under the expected $121 million cap. The Cowboys are roughly $20 million over that figure, so lowering Romo's cap number by extending his contract is an important part of that process.

"I don't feel pressed," Jones said. "I don't think we've ever felt pressed with Tony. He's been a great partner. As I said, your quarterback, even when you have a good one and we're certainly lucky to have one of the best, is going to represent a good piece of your salary cap. How you manage that is important. He understands that and we do, too."

Jones wouldn't get into specifics about how much the team wants to pay, but Romo could command a three- to five-year deal with an average salary of at least $12 million, slightly more than what he received in his last contract.

Talks between the sides were halted during the 2012 season because Romo didn't want it to become a distraction.