The Dallas Cowboys knew that this moment was coming when Dak Prescott signed his four-year, $160 million contract back in March of 2021 … and now a decision has to be made one way or the other.
Due to Prescott’s $59.4 million cap hit, a contract restructure is conventionally thought to be the “best” way forward for the Cowboys. … and that’s always been the plan.
But what Jerry Jones and the front office have to figure out is if Dak is the one to get them over the playoff hump. … and at the same time, the “bar of expectations” has to be realistic.
We still say that getting Prescott a new deal is the No. 1 thing the franchise must do this offseason. … and the clock is ticking, as Dallas must be cap-compliant by March 13 – and needs the re-do on Dak’s deal in order to do other business.
So he’s likely about to be paid like Patrick Mahomes … which does not make him Patrick Mahomes.
Can Prescott take the Cowboys to the Super Bowl? That is the idea. On the way there, can he put up numbers? That is established.
Prescott topped the league in touchdown passes (36), was a second-team All-Pro and finished second in MVP voting. What the Cowboys have to have faith in is that those numbers and his 2023 pre-playoff performance are foundational parts of a title contender.
But once Dak gets his new deal – worth $50 million or $60 million APY or whatever, assuming that is the path the parties choose – there is a trap to be avoided.
And that trap is assuming that because Dak gets paid like Pat, who just led his Kansas City Chiefs to a third Super Bowl in five years, Dak will be Pat.
And that’s not realistic.
The Cowboys can opt to not extend Dak and swallow big on his monstrous $59 million cap hit. (There seem to be some “leaks and whispers” that suggest such a thing is actually a consideration.) But that would seriously hinder their ability to do the things the Cowboys need to do to be as good as the Chiefs.
Prescott can’t be as good as Mahomes. But the Cowboys roster can be as good as the Chiefs roster … and the cap-savings extension (which can provide Dallas with $20 million of room) helps make that happen.
Want to sign free agents to help push this team to the heights the Chiefs have reached? The smart money has always been on an extension.
Can the Cowboys find a better quarterback than Prescott for less money? If so, they should do that. But that, too, is unrealistic.
The Cowboys are “close” to having a Super Bowl roster according to COO Stephen Jones. If Dallas doesn’t extend Dak, that “closeness” fades.
To some degree, the Cowboys are damned if they do and damned if they don’t. … which in a sense puts them in the same boat as the other 30 teams who shouldn’t be asking their QBs to be “better than Mahomes,” either.