Dak Prescott’s saying right things, even if completely untrue

Dak Prescott and the Cowboys are once again embattled in an uncomfortable and extremely high stakes contract negotiation. The 31-year-old franchise quarterback is coming off his best year as a pro. Not only did he guide Dallas to their third consecutive 12-win season in 2023, but he finished runner-up in league MVP voting.

His stock has arguably never been higher and with clauses that forbid a trade or franchise tag again in 2025, his leverage has never been higher. Perhaps that’s why progress on a new deal has been seemingly stuck in the mud. Jerry and Stephen Jones, Dallas’ top decision makers, are known to push things to the 11th hour. “Deadlines make deals,” as they say, and the Joneses appear to follow that mantra to a T.

Unsigned and unphased, Prescott appears ready to head into the 2024 campaign in the last year of his deal. Each day he gets closer to unrestricted free agency, the more powerful his position grows. Lame duck seasons have never bothered him before, so why should they now?

Prescott played in 2019 without an extension and all he did was grow his value. He played in 2020 without a new deal and despite suffering a gruesome ankle injury, he again grew his value. With a reported $161,437,392 in career earnings already in his bank account and a full grasp of Mike McCarthy’s offense in his toolbelt, there’s no reason to think his mindset has suddenly changed this time.

With OTA’s now picking up steam and training camp roughly two months away, Prescott has been saying all the right things regarding his tenuous contract situation:

“I don’t play for money,” Prescott said. “I have never cared for it to be honest with you. Yeah, I would give it up just to play this game.”

He’s said repeatedly over the offseason he wants to re-sign with Dallas. And at no point in any of his negotiations prior has he’s ever even hinted at wanting to play elsewhere. Aside from showing mild annoyance from time to time, Prescott has always been supportive of the Cowboys’ business decisions and roster building strategies. He’s playing it all by the book, even if that not caring about the money thing is untrue.

There’s little question Prescott wants to remain the top signal caller for America’s Team going forward. Even if Dallas hasn’t achieved premier accomplishments since the Clinton administration, it’s a premier franchise, with premier exposure, and premier star power. The preferred venue and franchise are not in question. But the money doesn’t matter? That’s a tough pill to swallow.

Based on his leverage at the moment and overall standing within the league, Prescott’s in position to either reset the QB market or come ridiculously close. It’s a situation he deserves to be in, regardless of any postseason shortcomings, and a situation that’s about as far from not about the money as one could be in.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

“I’ll allow the business people to say what it’s worth – what they’re supposed to give a quarterback of my play, a person of my play and a leader of my [caliber],” Prescott said. “For me it’s about controlling what I can control and handling that part and the rest will take care of itself.”

It’s safe to say Prescott considers himself one of the best QBs in the NFL. He’s also objectively one of the best people in the NFL (Walter Payton Man of the Year 2022) and one of the best leaders (just ask his teammates). As such, any compensation short of being one of the highest, if not THE highest, would seemingly fall short of his expectations.

To say money doesn’t matter and follow it up with a qualifier such as this is a little absurd. Not as absurd as Jerry Jones redefining “all in” or Stephen Jones crying poverty in free agency, but certainly along the same lines.

It’s no small thing that Prescott’s represented by Todd France. France is essentially the Scott Boras of the NFL. He’s an agent who players love for his hard-nosed tactics and someone who likely instills a much different emotional response from NFL front offices like Dallas’. According to Forbes, France stands out amongst the rest, negotiating an estimated $1.4 billion in active contracts. That’s not the guy you hire when money doesn’t matter.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

“It’s understanding I have a lot of [choice] in this too,” Prescott said. “I have a lot of say-so, too. It’s understanding business is a business and, for me, it’s controlling what I can and that’s making sure I’m the best player that I can be right now.”

If it wasn’t about the money, Prescott wouldn’t have one of the toughest negotiators in the NFL representing him. It’s absolutely about the money. And guess what? There’s nothing wrong with that. Everyone wants fair compensation and in Prescott’s own words he wants what a player/person/leader his caliber deserves. Prescott may be willing to sacrifice a million here or a guarantee there but France is on the payroll for a reason – maximize returns.

For as annoying as Stephen and Jerry Jones sound when discussing their salary cap limitations and some analogy about a pie; For as by-the-book but laughable as Prescott sounds when he says it’s not about the money; It’s all just part of negotiations. Negotiations get ugly. They get absurd. They get strategic with public opinion. No one gets out unscathed. Just ask Jimmy Hoffa. Take all their words with a grain of salt because negotiations are as much about public opinion as they are about finding that sweet spot that seals the deal.

So one last time: there’s nothing wrong with that.

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Story originally appeared on Cowboys Wire