Hearts broke for quarterback Dak Prescott during the Dallas Cowboys’ Week 5 game against the New York Giants.
Prescott, as you may recall, suffered a gruesome ankle dislocation and compound fracture against the Giants in mid-October. It came after the 27-year-old threw for 1,690 yards and nine touchdowns in his first four games, leading the league in passing yards en route to what would have been surefire third Pro Bowl honor.
Many were even more disappointed due to the fact that Prescott was playing on the franchise tag, essentially scolding Cowboys longtime owner Jerry Jones for getting away with one in the process.
And then things dramatically changed for both the Cowboys and Prescott.
The Cowboys averaged 31.5 points, 509.5 total yards and 407.8 passing yards per game during his four starts, according to ESPN’s Mike Tannenbaum. Over the next 10 games, those numbers — 21.3 points, 320.3 yards, 205.5 passing yards — fell off a cliff as the Dallas offense tried not to drown without their runaway Team MVP.
But now, after the Cowboys finished the 2020 season 6-10 and missed the playoffs, Prescott’s leverage has never been greater. And Jerry Jones knows it.
“I don’t know how you could have any more leverage,” Jones said Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan, as transcribed by ESPN.
Dallas needs money to rebuild its defense, which was one of the worst in the league. Quarterback Andy Dalton was fine, especially for a backup, but he couldn’t even lead the Cowboys to seven wins in a terrible division. The Cowboys have the offensive playmakers, but they need Prescott to put it all together.
And making the quarterback play his second year on the franchise tag, which would be in the neighborhood of $37 million, is not a way to build a roster that should be in win-now mode. It’s also not a way to keep your franchise cornerstone happy.
So, while the Cowboys have been relentless in their praise for Prescott throughout the past few years, it’s now time for the team which was valued at $5.7 billion by Forbes to back it up financially.
“… His evolving into an NFL quarterback has been nothing short of a perfect picture,” Jones told the radio station, per ESPN. “He has great ability, in my mind, to win games. He’s talented. He certainly has the experiences and he has all the things, which has been substantiated by what we’ve offered Dak. You wouldn’t offer Dak what we offered in the past if you’d not thought he was very special. The issue is, how do you come together? And that’s no stranger to me. I’ve been doing it all my life, putting things together. We’ve got to get it together.”
Yes, Jerry, you do.
The two parties can resume negotiations on a long-term deal now that Dallas’ season is over after a third-place finish in the worst division in football. Prescott had to play the 2020 season on the $31.4 million franchise tag after the two sides could not reach a contract agreement last June. Those deals reportedly were hung up based on the length of the contract.
Head coach Mike McCarthy, though, remains confident it will get done.
“I can’t answer the contract question. From what I see and where I am, I am very confident we are going to get that worked out,” McCarthy previously told reporters, per ESPN. “My conversation with Dak is always very positive and always with the focus on what the future holds and what we are going to do on offense, the team and his leadership.”
Chances are that even a long-term deal will result in Prescott’s 2021 cap coming in at more than $30 million, but the reality is the Cowboys have no choice. Prescott has all the leverage even after a lost season, and Dallas is too invested to walk away from a potential superstar in hopes of finding their next Dak Prescott.