By Dwain Price
Because of the coronavirus pandemic and all of the dangers that it entails, many things are different these days for the Dallas Cowboys.
For starters, that summer trip the Cowboys annually took to Oxnard, Calif., for training camp has been scratched. Instead, the Cowboys will hold a streamlined version of their summer camp at their world headquarters in Frisco.
But at least the Cowboys, who start training camp in less than two weeks, will have quarterback Dak Prescott back in the fold. For a year, anyway.
All the off-season drama that unfolded surrounding whether or not the Cowboys would offer their ultra-talented quarterback a feasible long-term contract ended last month with the team signing Prescott to the team’s one-year franchise tag contract of $31.4 million. In layman’s term, that means the Cowboys can’t negotiate another contract with Prescott until after the 2020 season, which could put them in a precarious position.
At that time, Prescott can either sign a long-term contract, or take the painstaking route of signing yet another one-year franchise tag deal that’ll pay him $38 million next season. By not getting Prescott under lock and key long-term wise this offseason, it’s a gamble the Cowboys were more than willing to make.
However, Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones steadfastly acknowledged that Prescott remains in the team’s long-term plans.
“I still have nothing but 100 percent belief in Dak and his future here with the Dallas Cowboys and that we can ultimately get a deal done,” Jones said. “He’s special. As (owner) Jerry (Jones) and I have said, we’re 110 percent behind him and ultimately feel like we’ll get this done.”
Seemingly, the longer the Cowboys wait to put pen to paper with Prescott on a long-term basis, the price of doing business increases. Especially since the Kansas City Chiefs signed their quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, to a record-breaking contract extension last month that could invariably pay him as much as $503 million over the next 12 years, thus re-setting the market for quarterbacks of Prescott’s ilk.
Prescott is coming off a magnificent season where he threw 30 touchdowns and finished second in the NFL with 4,902 yards passing yards. In addition, the Cowboys were first in the league in total offense with 6,904 yards, and also manufactured 450 or more yards in seven games.
The architect of that video-game offense was Prescott, a four-year veteran who is generally regarded as one of the game’s best quarterbacks. But since he doesn’t have any Super Bowl sheepskin to show for the eye-popping numbers he’s produced, his detractors believe not only can he not win the big game, but he can’t even get the Cowboys there.
However, that could all change this season since the Cowboys parted ways with long-time head coach Jason Garrett over the offseason and replaced him with Mike McCarthy. Known as a quarterback coaching guru, McCarthy spent 13 years with the Green Bay Packers while coaching quarterback Aaron Rodgers to superstar status.
Overall under McCarthy, the Packers were in the top five in the NFL in points scored on five occasions, and in the top 10 in total offense nine times. They also won the Super Bowl in 2010, the year it was played inside the Cowboys’ home at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
The Cowboys are hoping Prescott will become the benefactor of McCarthy’s magical touch. But if it doesn’t happen this season, the Cowboys will have to find a way to sign Prescott to another contract during the next offseason.
“We made a lot of progress and you’ve got to continue to make progress in terms of these types of negotiations,” Stephen Jones said, referring to the contract stalemate with Prescott. “We’ve never had one quite like it.
“But he’s got such a great outlook on the Dallas Cowboys (and) on our football team. He’s ready to go out and win a Super Bowl, which would only create more value for him (and) more value for the Cowboys.”