Dak Prescott keeps playing his way to a massive Dallas Cowboys contract
Dak Prescott is in a weird spot, though far from a bad one. He will make a touch over $2 million this season and yet, because this is the Dallas Cowboys and normal realities don’t apply here, one pass could inflate or deflate his potential earnings by that much ... or more.
Whether a normal reality even exists in the National Football League’s salary market is up for debate, but let’s just agree for now that once you get within the intense confines of Cowboy Nation, you’re talking about a different game altogether.
It’s a game Prescott is playing particularly well, as he seeks to leverage his quarterbacking ability and tilt owner Jerry Jones’ balancing act between talent-retention and salary cap management in his favor.
Every time he does something good — especially those moments impactful enough to change a game — you can hear the cash register: cha-ching! All those “cha-chings” are going to fatten his long-term bank account, and each one twists Jones’ arm a little more.
Monday night’s victory over the New York Giants wasn’t a great game, but it did a lot. It proved that the Giants are either susceptible to a black cat curse ... or just aren’t very good at football. It saved the Cowboys fan base from going into full-blown panic mode — the difference between starting 5-3 versus 4-4 and seriously jeopardizing its postseason chances. And it showed that Jones’ franchise, in its current state, needs Prescott.
When Jones decides he needs someone, he pays them. A lot. Having faced some uncertain voices at the start of the season, Prescott now has himself in a position where a blockbuster new deal is not a question, but a formality — and the numbers keep rising. Prescott wants to marshal the Cowboys offense for years to come and has positioned himself as a vital leader in the group. He’s part of the furniture now, and he talks like a lifer.
“The brotherhood here is second to none,” he told reporters. “I’ve never been on a team like this, going back to high school. When you have a team like that, when you face adversity, it’s like water off a duck’s back.”
The adversity he was referring to is the fact that the Cowboys sputtered and struggled for much of Monday night before prevailing, 37-18, against a Giants team that has now lost five straight and has a game-yet-inexperienced young QB in Daniel Jones.
Prescott had his own troubles early, with an interception on the first play from scrimmage. But by the end, he had hit for three touchdown passes and thrown for 257 yards. It wasn’t his best performance, yet it was one in which the QB had to produce in key moments — and he did. Offensive coordinator Kellen Moore has opened up the playbook to allow Prescott more downfield options and he has responded well. Had it not been for his ability to uncork a pair of 40-yard-plus touchdowns, the game would have been a lot tighter.
Such things gave an impression that Prescott was the difference maker — and those are the kind of things that get people paid.
Many thought Prescott and Jones would have come to terms on a new contract by now, and suggestions are that the parties are reasonably close. Even while topping the NFC East, Dallas hasn’t been outstanding and there were distinct and understandable rumbles following the team’s Week 6 loss to the otherwise hopeless New York Jets.
However, the most generous version of Jerry Jones isn’t the one hanging around when everything is going completely smoothly. Rather, it’s the version that appears where he sees hope and potential and believes it’s on himself to make the final pieces fit. Jones has paid Ezekiel Elliott (to the tune of a 6-year, $90-million contract extension) and he will need to pay Amari Cooper, but Prescott’s play is escalating to the number one order of business.
In the summer it was rumored that Dallas might try to get away with offering Prescott something in the region of $25 million per year. That seems like a forlorn hope for Jones now. Prescott has done enough to ensure his representatives will fight hard for guaranteed money that will match or better Jared Goff’s $110 million with the Los Angeles Rams. Or, for the kind of shorter-term deal some believe Prescott favors, Dallas may be looking at an annual rate in the region of Russell Wilson’s league-best $35 million salary.
Prescott has had to fight through many things, including the perception that his throwing accuracy is not up to scratch.
“There is a myth out there about Dak Prescott, the most under-appreciated, over-criticized quarterback in the history of pro football,” FS1’s Skip Bayless said on Undisputed last week. “There is this incredibly erroneous label tattooed on his forehead that says ‘inaccurate.’ All he does is throw accurate passes, but everyone continues to dismiss him as inaccurate.”
He’s also had to work through Jones’ early belief that this was a position in which he could pinch a little money to make the other pieces fit a bit more neatly. That he was not necessarily the right guy. That he was in danger of regressing after a spectacular start to his career.
Dallas’ normal doesn’t apply to anyone else. Being sat right here, with a season that in four weeks — after formidable clashes with the Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions, New England Patriots and Buffalo Bulls — could either look glowing or disastrous, is prime soap opera fodder. The dramatics never slow down much around the Cowboys.
But there is big money to be had in popular theatric productions, and Prescott is on course to claim a large slice of it.