Did Jerry Jones Just Force Dak Prescott’s Hand?
Going into the NFL offseason, everyone thought that quarterback Andy Dalton would either be traded or released from the Cincinnati Bengals. Everyone was correct. Dalton was released from the Bengals on April 30th. The move instantly led to speculation about where Dalton would play next season. The obvious suggestions where New England and Jacksonville. Places where Dalton would have a chance to compete for a starting job. I don’t think anyone imagined Dallas however.
Jerry Jones just played chess, while Dak Prescott has been playing checkers.
Throughout much of the offseason, the major storyline has been about quarterback Dak Prescott seeking a new contract from the Dallas Cowboys. Over his four year career, Prescott has been an above average QB. You wouldn’t know that by looking at his salary though. Since Prescott was a fourth round selection, he has a career earnings of just over four million dollars. It’s fair to say the QB has been vastly underpaid for the early part of his career. However, due to his draft position there’s not much Prescott could have done about it. Not until this offseason at least.
Dak Prescott was set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. That was until Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones placed the exclusive franchise tag on the QB. The tag would ensue that Prescott is only able to play for the Cowboys this upcoming season. The tag also pays the player a one-year salary that is a minimum average of the top-five salaries at that player’s position. For example, if Prescott signs the exclusive tag, he would play next season earning over $31 million. A number which may sound fantastic to you or me, but not according Prescott.
Dak has had no desire to sign the franchise tag Dallas placed on him. Instead, the QB has been seeking out a long-term contract with more security. Negotiations between Prescott and the Cowboys has been at a stalemate for most of the offseason. Any offer Dallas has made, Prescott has turned down. The latest offer was reported to be at least $34 million annually, yet Prescott still hasn’t accepted.
Speculation of whether or not Prescott would play next season without a long-term deal has started to grow. Jerry Jones doesn’t want to overpay for his QB, but he also doesn’t want to waste a season without having a starting quarterback. Enter Andy Dalton.
The move to sign Dalton might just force Dak Prescott’s hand.
While Andy Dalton isn’t a top-five QB in the league, he is a competent starter. If you have the right pieces in place, you can win games with Dalton. He led the Bengals to the playoffs in each of his first four seasons. Dalton has also been a Pro Bowl selection three times in his career, most recently in 2016. He has over 31,000 yards and 204 touchdowns through his nine years in the league.
Now some may look at last season and say that Dalton’s best days are behind him, but I would push back on that. The Bengals earned the number one pick last year. They were not a good football team, and to blame that all on Dalton would be ignorant.
Either way, Dalton wouldn’t have to carry the Cowboys on his back if he ended up starting the season. Dallas has talented receivers in Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and this years first round pick CeeDee Lamb. They also have an outstanding offensive line, to go along with running back Ezekiel Elliot. The onus wouldn’t be on Dalton to win games, it would be to not lose them; which is something he’s shown the ability to do.
The ball is now in Dak Prescott’s court. There is no longer fear from the Cowboys of a wasted season due to a Prescott holdout. It also seems unlikely that Jerry Jones will increase his offer to Prescott any time soon. Dallas has gained all the leverage in this contract dispute. We just have to wait for Dak’s next move.