Making the media rounds prior to the Super Bowl, Dallas Cowboys free-agent quarterback Dak Prescott hints at a possible holdout this offseason.
The Dallas Cowboys have several upcoming free agents to make decisions about before free agency officially kicks off in March. In fact, there are a total of 30 players potentially hitting the open market, with 24 of them being unrestricted free agents.
And the Cowboys will ponder the futures of some very notable names in Dallas. Players like wide receiver Amari Cooper, cornerback Byron Jones, defensive end Robert Quinn, and tight end Jason Witten. But there is no bigger name than quarterback Dak Prescott.
A fourth-round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft out of Mississippi State, Prescott has been an absolute steal for the Cowboys. The NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year has started in every single game in Dallas since his record-setting first season, earning himself two Pro Bowl nominations and leading America’s Team to a record of 40-24, two divisional crowns, two playoff berths, and a postseason victory.
In the final year of his rookie contract in 2019, Prescott posted a career-year individually recording 4,902 passing yards, 30 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions with a 99.7 quarterback rating and a 65.1 completion percentage.
Despite ending the season with an 8-8 record and outside the playoffs, the Cowboys did possess the NFL’s top offense last year. They averaged 431.5 total offensive yards per game as well as ranked second in passing offense throwing for 296.9 yards a contest.
Scheduled to hit free agency in March, the Cowboys and Prescott have yet to strike a deal for a contract extension despite efforts to do so since early last year. Now it appears the fourth-year passer may be willing to holdout if the team chooses to exercise the franchise tag in order to keep him.
Here’s what Prescott told the Dallas Morning News this week when asked if he’ll take part in the offseason program if he doesn’t have a new contract.
"“We’ll get to that when we get to that. I look forward to talking to my agents and when that [tag] comes to play, the direction that we’ll go. Until that’s a reality, I won’t worry about it. But I do feel like some of this should get done. I’m a little disappointed that it hasn’t, but that’s part of it.’’"
When Prescott was asked if he would be spending the coming months in Dallas, the fourth-year passer indicated he would not be and asked that specifically be reported. Clearly he and his representatives are hoping to use his absence from the team as leverage to get a new deal, similar to what running back Ezekiel Elliott did just last year.
Elliott famously trained in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico during the Cowboys training camp last season. He did not return to the team until five days before their regular-season opener against the New York Giants, signing a six-year, $90 million contract extension.
The biggest difference between Prescott possibly holding out and Elliott’s situation is the fact the Cowboys recently hired a new head coach in Mike McCarthy, parting ways with Jason Garrett earlier this month.
If Prescott decides to holdout for any significant portion of the team’s offseason activities, he could be costing himself an opportunity to build a rapport with McCarthy and to learn from the quarterback guru who has worked with legends like Joe Montana, Brett Favre, and Aaron Rodgers.
More importantly, Prescott could be costing the Cowboys wins by not taking full advantage of the offseason training during this critical transition. But the fact his offensive coordinator from last season, Kellen Moore, will return to be the play caller in Dallas and that former tights ends coach Doug Nussmeier has shifted to quarterback coach should help.
McCarthy himself has gone on record to confirm that the Cowboys will be keeping the same terminology and language the team used last season. That’s a significant sacrifice being made by the former longtime Green Bay Packers coach and Super Bowl-winner. So, the fact Prescott will not have to learn an all-new playbook could ease the pain of a possible holdout this offseason as well.
But there is little doubt that not having your starting quarterback take part in your offseason activities due to a contractual holdout could be potentially devastating for a team in the midst of a coaching regime change.
Dak Prescott knows that. His representatives know that. And the Dallas Cowboys know that. So perhaps that knowledge will spur a compromise between the two sides. Unfortunately, this kind of maneuvering has become commonplace during contract negotiations in the NFL. And the ultimate price could be yet another lost season in Dallas.