Despite a positive offseason, unnecessary drama surrounds the Dallas Cowboys. Here’s how the organization is mishandling the biggest piece of the puzzle.
By all measures, the Dallas Cowboys have had a pretty successful offseason. From the moment the 2019 season ended with yet another 8-8 campaign, the team has made several moves to point themselves in the right direction.
It all started by getting out from under the decade long wet blanket that was the Jason Garrett era. The Cowboys replaced the underwhelming long-time coach with former Super Bowl-winning coach, Mike McCarthy. That move, along with several positional coach replacements, should be a huge win.
Free agency was the next hurdle that this team cleared fairly easily. Yes, players like cornerback Byron Jones and defensive end Robert Quinn departed. However, the additions far outweighed the subtractions. Defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Dontari Poe, along with safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, cornerback Daryl Worley, and quarterback Andy Dalton all make this team better at their respective positions.
Lastly, the 2020 NFL Draft came and went, with the Cowboys being one of the most obvious winners. Receiver CeeDee Lamb, along with cornerbacks Trevon Diggs and Reggie Robinson II, not to mention defensive tackle Neville Gallimore were all great selections at the point in which they were chosen.
Everything from January on seems to be going the Cowboys’ way, with one huge, glaring exception. The organization’s complete mishandling of quarterback Dak Prescott‘s new deal.
Before we go any further, let’s be perfectly clear on something. There are two camps here. Those who support Prescott and acknowledge that he deserves the industry-standard huge deal all top-notch quarterbacks earn. And those who do not. I’m not here to argue with the latter. If you’re looking for the “Dak is trash” article, you can stop reading now.
Everything that Dallas has done regarding Prescott and his next contract has been completely botched. The team could not get a deal done last year according to Charlotte Carroll of si.com. They could not get one done prior to free agency this year either, that according to Jori Epstein of USA Today.
The Cowboys then hit Prescott with the exclusive franchise tag in the 25th hour. The failures to get an obvious deal done definitely cost them Jones. It also forced them to overpay receiver Amari Cooper. Had the Cowboys just gave Dak the deal he should have been given, they could have tagged Cooper at $17.87 million instead of guaranteeing him $60 million.
Back in August, an unnamed source not involved in the negotiations told Dan Patrick of the Dan Patrick Show that the Cowboys leaked details of a supposed deal being offered to Prescott. This in an alleged attempt to curry favor with fans.
Prescott repeatedly turning down $30 million-plus offers would certainly rub a lot of people the wrong way if true. Especially in a time when many are either out of work or barely getting by.
It’s a potentially bizarre public besmirching of a guy both owner Jerry Jones and his son, executive vice president Stephen Jones, claim they want to be the franchise quarterback for a long time. The younger Jones took to the public forum once more this week. In a one-on-one interview with Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, Stephen Jones tried to use some weird explanation as to why their quarterback remains unsigned to a deal:
"“There’s all sorts of analytics out there that show if your quarterback takes up too big a percentage of your salary cap, that it decreases your chances to win.”"
This, of course, is absurd on two fronts. The first being that almost every franchise’s highest-paid player is … you guessed it … the quarterback.
Five of the six highest-paid quarterbacks have either been to the Super Bowl or won the thing outright. The top seven highest money earning players currently active are all quarterbacks with the top five all either taking their team to the big game or hoisting a Lombardi Trophy. The Seahawks, Rams, Saints, 49ers, and Steelers are amongst the top ten franchises with the most money tied to their quarterback. All have been to a Super Bowl in the past decade.
The other reason this makes no sense is the Dallas Cowboys have, in back-to-back years dropped almost $200 million in total contract dollars to the starting running back and number one receiver. These deals make up just over 18 percent of the entire team’s salary cap.
Out of the nine highest-paid running backs in the league, they have all combined for a grand total of zero rushes in a Super Bowl. This didn’t stop Dallas from giving Ezekiel Elliott a six-year, $90 million deal last season with just over $50 million guaranteed.
Of the eight highest-paid receivers in the league, only Houston Texans wide receiver Brandin Cooks has played in a Super Bowl. This did not stop Dallas from giving Cooper a five-year, $100 million deal last season with $60 million in guarantees.
Meanwhile, Prescott’s made just $4.9 million over his four-year NFL career so far … total. And he did his part by winning 63 percent of his starts. All the while, the organization held on far too long to the overmatched coaching staff and the team failed to take advantage.
The Dallas Cowboys have had four years of paying their leader peanuts. It’s time to pay the piper and give him the money he deserves. The alleged public ploys to shame Prescott into a deal they are comfortable with needs to stop.
This offseason has been far too good to throw it all away over some minor aspects of a long-term deal with their star quarterback. Hopefully, this will soon be a non-issue. But, as we all know, the “D” in Big D far too often stands for “drama.”