When Dak Prescott began the season on fire with with nine touchdowns and two interceptions in a 3-0 Dallas Cowboys start, the chatter about his price tag going up was rampant.
Now that the Cowboys have lost two straight including Sunday’s home loss that saw them dig a 31-3 hole to the Green Bay Packers, that talk has waned. Especially as people woke up to realize that Prescott thrived against the NFL dregs that are the Washington Redskins, Miami Dolphins and New York Giants. He struggled in losses to the Packers and New Orleans Saints.
Jerry Jones talks Prescott’s contract
The chatter prompted Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to speak up on his weekly segment on 105.3 in Dallas Tuesday. His official line is that as far as he’s concerned, this small sample size will have no impact on negotiations with the quarterback making $2.1 million this season on the fourth year of his rookie deal.
“Well, first of all, the narrative about his financial as opposed to how he's playing is laughable,” Jones said. “It's just not that way. It's too much on both ends of that for both ends of the team and for Dak to equate his performance, stats, or won-loss these first two or three games.”
Jones expressed a confidence in Prescott that suggests that he’s still due for a big payday from the Cowboys, though it seems unlikely that will be in the neighborhood of the $40 million annual salary Prescott has reportedly sought.
“Let me get that real clear. It's not impacting that with me at all,” Jones said of this season’s play. “But I do see Dak showing the ability to handle adversity and basically go out and make the kind of plays that win important games for the Cowboys in the future. I see that.”
Prescott more like Aaron Rodgers or Kirk Cousins?
The longer this situation drags out, the more it looks like the Kirk Cousins situation with the Washington Redskins — minus the complete lack of competence from management that saw Washington slap the franchise tag on its quarterback twice before letting him walk.
Prescott’s a fine NFL quarterback
So far in his career, Prescott has done little to demonstrate that he’s more than an average starter in the NFL — a guy who can put up decent numbers but isn’t a difference-maker in high-stakes games. That’s a familiar narrative for Redskins and Vikings fans who are now lamenting the $84 million deal their team signed Cousins to to win his free agency bid two offseasons ago.
Prescott — like Cousins — entered the league as a fourth-round pick without much pedigree. He took over the Cowboys job as a rookie when Tony Romo suffered a back injury and held onto it thanks to a 13-3 record aided by a premium running game and arguably the best offensive line in football.
Like Cousins, Prescott has put up solid, but not spectacular numbers during his first three-plus seasons, completing 66.5 percent of his passes with 78 touchdowns and 31 interceptions. He’s yet to throw for more than 23 touchdowns in a single season, though he’s on pace to do so this year with 11 through five games.
But again, his hot start was aided by feasting on the league’s worst teams. Prescott has had the benefit of playing with Ezekiel Elliott and an elite offensive line since he joined the league.
He’s not great
Most NFL quarterbacks would put up decent numbers standing behind that offensive line. And Prescott’s not demonstrated anything to suggest he’s on the level of top-tier quarterbacks who step up to make the difference in big games.
He didn’t do so against the Saints and Packers where he threw two touchdowns and four interceptions in losses against the NFC’s best. He struggled under pressure Sunday without the benefit of injured left tackle Tyron Smith. He didn’t do so in a playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams last season.
If he was elite, we’d know it by now.
But Dallas, unlike Washington with Cousins, appears ready to sign Prescott to a big deal. All signs point to it being a matter of when, not if.
When Prescott’s eating up $30-plus million of the salary cap instead of $2 million, the Cowboys won’t have the flexibility to line up the talent he’s surrounded by now.
That’s when we’ll truly find out what kind of quarterback Prescott is.
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