Is the Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl window closing?

Dallas Cowboys finally have to pay Dak Prescott, what affect will it have?

The Dallas Cowboys finally will have to pay Dak Prescott “franchise quarterback” money this upcoming season, after four years of getting him for a bargain price. According to reports, Prescott will sign his $31.4 million exclusive franchise tender on Monday. That means the Cowboys path to a Super Bowl gets harder than it hypothetically was the past four years with Dak’s salary not holding a major chunk of the organization’s salary cap.

This has to make the front office’s decision to hold on to former head coach Jason Garrett after the 2017 season that much more questionable. The team had an advantage in the league with Prescott just making $630,000 going into 2018. The same advantage the Seattle Seahawks had with quarterback Russell Wilson early in his career.

The introduction of head coach Mike McCarthy in 2020 seems two years too late in my opinion, with the opportunity to build a roster with a lot more cap space around a new head coach in 2018. Garrett showed just enough in contract years previously to hold on to his job, but never enough to give hope of a Super Bowl run.

So, what could have been different in 2018 with a new head coach and the extra $30 million in cap space wiggle room? It first off would have given the possibility for a new coach to bring in their veteran players and even make a key free-agent signing. Something McCarthy and the organization didn’t have the option of in 2020.

Dallas Cowboys hands tied in 2020? Does it matter?

Dallas had to say goodbye to key pieces of their defense this season due to the need to pay Prescott going forward, there was no space for cornerback Byron Jones to return or to sign defensive end Robert Quinn to a new contract after a double-digit sack season.

The organization had to lean on aging defensive tackles and signed veteran safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to a cheaper deal due to his past few years of up and down play.

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The thought of bringing in a star defensive player, like defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was not an option this offseason. Maybe, it could have been in 2018, still, two-years before the defense would have to cut prices and get younger through the draft.

Even with their hands tied on the defensive side of the ball going into 2020, the team has hope that new coordinator Mike Nolan can deliver with a mix of veterans and younger players, after mixed results the previous few seasons under the last staff.

It is now a distant thought what could have been in 2018 with a new coaching staff and vision of trying to win in the last two years of Prescott’s rookie deal.

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Going forward, the team still has a solid chance to find success, but it will have to do it while balancing a tougher and tougher salary cap each season. $31.4 million is just for 2020, the price will increase in the coming years. The issue isn’t Dak Prescott going into his fifth season, it’s the loss of an opportunity over his first four seasons.