Dak Prescott chose to bet on himself this past offseason. It looked like it was going to work. He refused to sign a long-term extension with the Dallas Cowboys after hitting free agency and the organization franchise-tagged him for $31 million. Prescott's future earnings potential rode on his performance this year-- and he was set to earn himself a monstrous payday until he went down with a nasty ankle injury that sidelined him for the year.
Usually when a player is on a one-year deal and suffers a compound fracture and dislocation of his ankle like Prescott did, the immediate future does not look bright. Medical technology has never been better but there's no guarantee a player would be the same guy after such an injury and contract negotiations take place before they can step back on the field and prove they are, in fact, the same guy.
Prescott is a unique case in that he's a quarterback, and a very good one at that. Very good quarterbacks are always at a premium in the NFL. Paired with the fact that Dallas has been one of the worst teams in the league after his injury, Prescott will still be in a position of power when it comes to negotiations next year. Adam Schefter broke it down on ESPN this morning.
As Schefter points out, the confluence of factors this offseason heavily favors Prescott. His team is bad without him and this season has proved that beyond any shadow of a doubt. There could be at least three and as many as seven other teams looking for a new quarterback and would be happy to throw a big bag at Prescott. With the cap shrinking due to the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Dallas will think twice before tagging Prescott again, which would cost them close to $40 million for one player.
Thus, Prescott is in an even better position than last year to wrangle a long-term agreement from the Cowboys. Dallas knows if they let him hit the open market that he will be drowning in offers from other franchises, and tagging him would not be smart financially, despite reports suggesting the Jones think otherwise. They were obviously reluctant to give him top-tier QB money last offseason. This year, they don't really have a choice.
Andy Dalton is not the future of the Cowboys. Neither is Ben DiNucci. The only circumstance where Prescott doesn't end up with a big-money contract to stay in Dallas is if they luck out and secure a top-two pick to get one of Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields, but a lot would have to go right for that to happen. They could take a swing on one of the second-tier QB prospects in the 2021 draft like Trey Lance, but this is a team built to win right now. Jerry Jones cannot and will not bank on the development of a rookie quarterback to bring this very expensive team a championship when Prescott is right there and likely more willing to sign with Dallas than any other franchise as long as the money is right.
The Jones family better be preparing to hand him a blank check. They and the Cowboys have no choice.