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As if there wasn’t enough intrigue surrounding Dak Prescott’s status, Tua Tagovailoa wants to play for the Dallas Cowboys. The most intensely discussed quarterback prospect in the 2020 NFL draft class says he could learn under the man whose contract status makes him one of the NFL’s most intensely discussed veterans.

Tua Tagovailoa has much to prove to NFL teams

Tua Tagovailoa had a memorable – albeit brief — career for the University of Alabama, but it ended with surgery that sidelined him midway through last season. Whether at the NFL Scouting Combine or in private workouts, he must prove this his fractured posterior wall and the dislocated hip that went with it are behind him or soon will be.

Even if team medical staffs judge him healthy enough to play now, Tagovailoa has a history of injuries. Teams can’t be faulted for wondering whether a 21-year-old prospect will still be NFL-caliber as a 28- or 30-year-old.

Despite the recent noise about Joe Burrow perhaps preferring to play elsewhere, the LSU star appears destined for that No. 1 spot once projected to belong to Tagovailoa. That combined with the fact that the quarterback class is relatively deep in prospects makes Tagovailoa’s draft status uncertain just months after he was tabbed as an all-but-certain No. 1 overall pick.

It would be bad for Tua Tagovailoa if the Cowboys drafted him

An interview with the NFL Network triggered the Tua Tagovailoa to Dallas headlines. “If you’re saying to me, if I can choose what team I want to play on, as far as my favorite team growing up, then I probably tell you the Cowboys,” he said.

Multiple mock drafts have Tagovailoa going to the Miami Dolphins with the third overall pick in the upcoming draft or the Detroit Lions with the fifth selection.

The Los Angeles Chargers at No. 6 are almost certain to go for a quarterback and there’s chatter that the Indianapolis Colts could go in that direction with the 13th pick or that the Carolina Panthers might move on from Cam Newton by moving up.

Barring a draft-day trade to climb in the first round, the Cowboys pick 17th. To sum it up, the only way Tagovailoa gets his dream is if as many as half a dozen teams with a need or a concern at quarterback bypass him and he slips into the back half of the first round.

That would cost him money and indicate that NFL teams have big concerns about his health.

Dak Prescott and the Cowboys have a lot to talk about

The Dallas Cowboys already have a young, talented signal-caller in Dak Prescott, who has started all 64 career games and has a ledger that includes 97 touchdown passes and just 36 interceptions.

With 4,902 passing yards and a 99.7 quarterback rating, there was nothing in his performance that suggested he is anything less than a franchise quarterback even if some stubbornly refuse to label him as elite.

Tua Tagovailoa acknowledged in the interview that Prescott, 26, is entrenched as the starting quarterback but said he wouldn’t mind spending a year learning from the former Mississippi State star, who quickly emerged after being taken in the fourth round.

And that’s the rub for Dallas. Prescott, who made a little more than $2 million in the final year of his rookie contract, and the Cowboys spent considerable time in the past year discussing an extension. Nothing came of that, so Prescott becomes an unrestricted free agent next month.

There’s no way the Cowboys let him walk, so the question is whether Prescott turns up his nose at the inevitable franchise tag, which would pay more than $30 million.

The franchise tag gives Tagovailoa the year as an understudy that he alluded to, but the more likely scenario is that Prescott forces Jerry Jones’ hand by holding out for a long-term deal, which worked a year ago for running back Ezekiel Elliott.