For the Dallas Cowboys, 2020 has been a year to forget. Things started with a coaching change and a failure to ink Dak Prescott to a long-term deal; once the season began, injuries and poor results have snowballed into a terrible, 2-7 start. The future, however, may still look bright, if you believe Stephen Jones.
In addition to confirming that Dak Prescott is recovering well from his ankle injury, Jones reaffirmed the club’s commitment to the quarterback. In his mind, the signal-caller is a central component of the Dallas Cowboys’ future.
Dak Prescott’s season was cut short by an awful injury
Coming into the 2020 campaign, Dak Prescott was supposed to prove if he was the right man to lead the Dallas Cowboys to the promised land. He’s still making his case, albeit in some pretty unexpected circumstances.
In case you blocked out an entire offseason’s worth of drama, Prescott and Jerry Jones couldn’t agree to a long-term contract. Dak ended up signing his franchise tender and nothing more; in theory, he had the 2020 season to show the Cowboys why they needed to pony up the cash to keep him in Dallas.
While the Cowboys struggled, Prescott got off to a hot start to the season; most of the time, he looked like anyone keeping the club afloat. During Week 5, however, everything changed. The quarterback, of course, suffered a compound ankle fracture, ending his season.
Since then, the Cowboys have trotted out three different starting quarterbacks and failed to win another game. While Prescott’s absence has proven his worth to Jerry Jones, no one wanted to be proven right in a situation like this.
The Dallas Cowboys have no doubt about their quarterback of the future
After seeing Andy Dalton, Ben DiNucci, and Garret Gilbert take the field in rapid succession, the Dallas Cowboys are undeniably longing for some stability under center. In the mind of the Jones family, that means tying the team’s future to one man: Dak Prescott.
Stephen Jones, the Cowboys’ executive vice president, recently gave an encouraging update about Prescott’s recovery; the quarterback has avoided any setback and seems to be progressing ahead of schedule. None of that matter to Dallas, though, if Prescott leaves town after this season.
That doesn’t seem to be any concerns for the Cowboys’ brass, though.
“Dak’s our quarterback and we’re so fired up about him and him leading us in the future,” Jones said, according to Jori Epstein of USA Today. “Like I said, we’re focused week to week right now on getting better each week.”
In case that quote is still too ambiguous, Jones made things extra clear. “Certainly we’re fired up about our future with Dak,” he said.
That sentiment is all well and good, but Dak Prescott has to agree
Stephen Jones’ sentiment is perfectly understandable, especially given what’s happened in 2020. There’s one problem, though: Dak Prescott has to agree to stay in Dallas, too.
From a purely logistical perspective, nothing has changed from last summer. Dak and Jerry Jones can work out a long-term contract, the Cowboys could use (another) franchise tag on the quarterback, or let him walk in free agency.
If we assume that the first two options are the only ones legitimately on the table, Dak Prescott still has some agency; he can turn down a contract extension or refuse to sign a franchise tender and hold out for a season. While there haven’t been any indications that he’ll use those nuclear options, it’s not impossible that his injury, coupled with the hardball that Jones played in the offseason, will cause him to reconsider his future.
With that being said, though, the bottom line remains the same as last summer: the Dallas Cowboys should do what they can to keep Dak Prescott on their roster. Simply willing it into existence via media interviews, however, won’t work. The club needs a plan, and, based on what we know of Jerry Jones, that’s where things tend to break down.