The Dallas Cowboys have drafted well in recent years.
But when a team drafts well, the bill eventually becomes due. Those easy-on-the-salary-cap rookie deals run out, and then it’s time to pay players who’ve developed like you’d hoped or risk losing them.
Last week, Dallas and pass-rusher DeMarcus Lawrence agreed to one of the largest deals ever for a non-quarterback.
This week, it’s time for the Cowboys to turn their attention to their quarterback.
Cowboys want to sign Dak Prescott before season starts
“I mean, that’s what we’d like to do. You don’t get to control these things,” Jones said. “There’s two sides to this. We've really never just gotten into the weeds in terms with Dak himself in terms of what his preference is. I know he's focused on winning and really getting as many players as he can out there working so we can have a great team next year.
“At the same time, I'm sure it'll be coming. There will be a point in time where we all get around and say, ‘Hey, let's get this done by a certain time and put it behind us’.”
Prescott is officially in the fourth and final year of his rookie deal.
Deal ‘gotta be team friendly’
Jones also has said publicly something that might be giving Prescott and his agents pause: he believes quarterback extensions “gotta be team friendly.”
Players should get as much as possible, but in the Cowboys’ case, Prescott isn’t the only key player who is coming up on the end of his contract. Running back Ezekiel Elliott is also heading into the fourth year of his pact, though as a first-round pick Dallas could pick up his fifth-year option by the May 3 deadline.
However, pushing off Elliott could make it more difficult to extend receiver Amari Cooper and cornerback Byron Jones, both of whom will be playing on their fifth-year options in 2019.
So it’s complicated for Prescott and the Cowboys.
“I know Dak want this, you want a supporting cast,” Jones said. “That’s the way to go down as being one of the great quarterbacks to ever play the game: win championships.
“There's been a lot of good players who won a lot of games and have good stats, but if you don't have championships, certainly there's an empty feeling there. I know Dak. His No. 1 goal here is to win Super Bowl championships. He's a winner; he's a leader.
“I just feel good that we'll find our way to a place that the contract enables us to surround him with a great supporting cast which a lot of it's in place. If you look at our offensive line, look at our receiving core, you look at Zeke: a lot of it's there. Obviously with [Jason] Witten coming back and some young tight ends, certainly that's a nice spot for us, too. So we've just gotta keep building on that and be able to fit Dak in.
“He certainly deserves to be paid fairly. He's a fourth-round pick out of Mississippi State, as we all know. He's never made a lot of money, per se, with his contract. Certainly deserves to be paid and be paid fairly.”
Prescott: I’m not in Brady’s situation
In February, Prescott did an interview with USA Today in which he scoffed at the notion of taking a hometown discount, and cited a foolish reason: Tom Brady’s wife, Gisele Bündchen.
Brady has historically agreed to below-market deals. Bündchen, one of the most famous women on the planet, makes more money than he does – by a lot. But Brady agreed to those types of deals before he was married, understanding that the New England Patriots can keep other key players under contract if he takes a little less.
“Nobody’s wife makes as much money as his wife does either,” Prescott said. “When Tom Brady isn’t the breadwinner in the home, then that’s a great problem to have. So in that case, he can do that. He can do his contract however you want to do it.”
No one is suggesting Prescott should take pennies on the dollar. And he should want as much as he can get. But if he likes having Prescott and Cooper and others on the team with him, he might have to consider his asking price, particularly since the six highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL in 2018 were all done for the season when Prescott and the Cowboys were in the playoffs.
‘He’s got rare intangibles’
Reporters have estimated that Prescott’s deal will be in the $25 million to $28 million per year range, though as with all NFL contracts, the fully guaranteed money is what matters most.
Jones wouldn’t discuss details, but elaborated on why Prescott has earned an extension.
“I just think he's got rare intangibles: his ability to interact with the team [in the] offseason, during the season, on the field, off the field. He's very well respected by all parts of our team, and that's rare,” Jones said. “Some guys get along with [defensive backs], some guys get along with their receivers, some guys get along with the offensive line. Dak just has a way with not only getting along with the offensive side of the ball, but with all facets of the team. So his leadership skills.
“He's the hardest worker out there. He'll go with any group at any time. If groups need to split up you'll see him out there sometimes three times a day throwing. He sets the tone. He's what we're all about. I just think that's hard to find. I think it's rare and I think he just has those leadership skills and intangibles. Players love to play for him. I think that's why he's had so much success winning.”
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