It takes a bold person to publicly call out Jerry Jones. After all, when you are worth $8.4 billion, you rarely have to answer to anyone. However, the Dallas Cowboys owner just received a stern warning from one of the most popular players in franchise history: Emmitt Smith. And in doing so, the Cowboys legend sent a clear message about how his former team should handle Dak Prescott and his contract moving forward.
Dak Prescott’s contract situation dominated headlines this offseason
Dating back to before the 2019 season even began, Jerry Jones tried to figure out a way to ensure Dak Prescott will remain in Dallas for years to come. After turning down a substantial contract offer, Prescott bet big on himself and set career-highs in passing yards (4,902) and touchdowns (30).
As a result, that only increased his price tag. Jones smartly placed the franchise tag on the two-time Pro Bowler on March 16. That maneuver allowed the Cowboys to continue negotiating with Prescott to find a middle ground on a long-term deal. While Prescott preferred a shorter contract, Dallas dug in and wanted the quarterback to sign a lengthier extension.
Ultimately, negotiations came down to the wire. But after months of speculation about a potentially record-setting contract, Jones and Prescott failed to come to terms prior to the July 15 deadline. As a result, the 27-year-old will play the 2020 NFL season on the franchise tag. Still, scoring a $31.4 million salary after earning less than $5 million since entering the NFL represents a substantial raise for the talented dual-threat quarterback.
Jerry Jones receives stern warning from Emmitt Smith
Though Dak Prescott will make excellent money in 2020, his lack of a long-term deal still seems strange given his early success. After all, what message does it send to your locker room that your franchise quarterback does not even know where he will play football in 2021? Plus, failing to meet Prescott’s contract demands could result in a damaged relationship between him and the team.
Perhaps no one knows this better than Emmitt Smith. The Cowboys legend missed the first two weeks of the 1993 season because he wanted a long-term deal from Jones. Ultimately, the billionaire owner caved and signed his star running back to a four-year, $13.6 million deal.
For Smith, the Prescott situation rings eerily similar to his own experience. So on Monday, the NFL legend issued a stern warning to his former boss during an interview with Tiki and Tierney on CBS Sports Radio.
“If you try to mess with Dak Prescott, trying to mess with him mentally, try to mess with him from a financial standpoint, you’re going to affect the whole chemistry of that entire team,” Smith said. “That’s one of the things I’ve seen many coaches, organizations, and owners do too often and just destroy the chemistry of a ball-club. I’ve seen it happen and I don’t think they need to do that with Dak.”
Will Prescott sign a long-term deal to stick around in Dallas?
Maybe Dak Prescott should bring Emmitt Smith to his next contract negotiation. Of course, he will have to wait until after the 2020 season finishes to re-open contract talks. But will Jerry Jones pull the trigger this time around?
Given the talent around him, Prescott should have no trouble putting together a career year. However, his regular-season performance matters little when it comes to securing a long-term deal. Instead, his ability to win playoff games will determine his fate. And to this point, the fifth-year pro has a rather thin playoff resume.
Prescott has taken his team to the playoffs twice in his first four years in the league. However, Dallas has gone just 1-2 and failed to qualify for the postseason in 2019. With a loaded roster on both sides of the ball, anything less than an NFC title game appearance would qualify as an abject failure.
But if Prescott can lead the Cowboys to a Super Bowl victory, he should be able to hand Jones a blank check next offseason. And the way Emmitt Smith sees it, there should be no doubt about Prescott’s future in Dallas.
“I do think Dak is the guy going forward; there’s no question in my mind about that,” Smith said. “Dak Prescott is in control of that offensive unit, is in command of that offense, and he has earned the respect as the leader of that team. The way he plays the game translates in that.”