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Cowboys 2023 position review: There’s Prescott then questions

Part of that process of moving forward from a premature season’s ending is analyzing each position and seeing where the team stands. At the game’s most important position, quarterback, the Dallas Cowboys are in great shape with Dak Prescott. The seven-year veteran signal caller is the unquestioned leader; in the locker room, on and off the field, it’s Prescott who is the face of the franchise.

Looking back at the 2022 season, it wasn’t one of Prescott’s cleanest performances. After being hurt with a fractured thumb in Week 1 and missing five games, Prescott managed to start in 12 games on the year. Unfortunately, that was enough for him to tie for lead the league in interceptions with 15. That number is skewed because of the drops or miscommunications that resulted in an inflated interception total, but Prescott did make several atypical poor decisions that were the biggest takeaway when looking at the position moving forward.

The interceptions were also a career high for Prescott, who had never thrown more than 13 in a season. After throwing for a Cowboys record 37 touchdown passes in 2021, it was a disappointing to watch the offense and Prescott struggle to be in sync.

However, the issues in the passing game could be attributed to the organizations handling of the wide receiver position last offseason. Aside from All-Pro WR CeeDee Lamb, the offense didn’t have a reliable threat to help Prescott when the Cowboys had to throw the ball. That was a big part of Prescott’s story last season, and the team shouldn’t go down the same path again in the upcoming campaign.

Aside from a few errant throws, though, Prescott still ranks among the league’s best quarterbacks. He threw for 23 touchdowns while leading the Cowboys to the fourth-highest scoring offense at 27.5 points a game and the league’s fifth-best third-down conversion rate at 45.5%.

Those are impressive numbers when remembering that backup QB Cooper Rush couldn’t help Dallas put more than 25 points up in any of his five starts and had just a 35% conversion rate on third down. With Prescott, the Cowboys scored over 28 points in seven of their 11 games, hitting the 40-point mark four times.

Prescott was often asked to bail the Cowboys out on 3rd-and-long conversions, which was part of their offensive success. The 52-yard gain on 3rd-and-30 to receiver T.Y. Hilton was an example of Prescott’s clutch play on the money down.

The Cowboys are in good shape with Prescott as their QB, he gives them a chance to win every week. Even with his contract still having two years left on it, the organization should look to extend Prescott, something that has been discussed by both Jerry and Stephen Jones since the season ended.

With Prescott’s $49 million cap hit, an extension could reduce his cost this season allowing cap flexibility and keeping the franchise QB in Dallas past two more years. If the team waits until next season, or after 2024, they’ll be in jeopardy of paying much more than they are comfortable doling out.

After Prescott, the Cowboys don’t have another quarterback on the roster under contract. Bringing Rush back would be a solid option since he did go 4-1 when called upon and the organization seems comfortable with the veteran backup. Rush proved he could play smart football and help the team win games if Prescott is forced out of the lineup. The question is whether his stint as a starter will price him out of Dallas’ range.

If so, third-string QB Will Grier showed some good things last preseason and has a year remaining on his contract. The Cowboys have talked about drafting a quarterback in April.

Prescott is a top-tier player and his status is cemented as the starter for 2023. Rush should have other options this offseason after playing well, but he’s played five seasons in Dallas, so it’s not a given he doesn’t return.

Expect the Cowboys to sign a low-priced veteran QB, or re-sign Rush, while drafting a young option. Make no mistake, though, Prescott is the QB of the now, and the future for the Cowboys. Everything else falls in line after Prescott.

You can chat with or follow Ben on twitter @BenGrimaldi.

Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire