Dallas Cowboys

Will QB Dak Prescott become NFL’s highest-paid player or sign a team-friendly deal?

Cowboys VP Stephen Jones says now is the time to extend QB Dak Prescott

Cowboys Vice President Stephen Jones says it makes sense to extend quarterback Dak Prescott now because "he deserves it," while speaking to media at the NFL Scouting Combine on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019.
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Cowboys Vice President Stephen Jones says it makes sense to extend quarterback Dak Prescott now because "he deserves it," while speaking to media at the NFL Scouting Combine on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019.

It was after midnight during a party to celebrate Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame the night before Super Bowl Super Bowl LI in Houston.

The atmosphere was understandably jovial and festive and everyone associated with the Cowboys past and present who were in Houston came through to offer congrats to Jones.

Quarterback Dak Prescott, who had just been named the NFL’s rookie of the year after fashioning the finest first season of any signal-caller in NFL history, was there glad-handing and hobnobbing.

A giddy and bubbly team executive leaned over and said of Prescott, “we are going to make him the highest-paid player in NFL.”

As a fourth-round pick in 2016, Prescott was underpaid by starting quarterback standards let alone that of a franchise quarterback.

And the Cowboys truly believed then — months before Tony Romo, the team’s all-time leading passer, who Prescott replaced, would be cut and then leave the game to do television with CBS Sports — they had found their next great quarterback.

Heading into his fourth season, Prescott has not necessarily repeated the exploits of his rookie season, but he is the undisputed face and leader of the franchise. And the Cowboys are ready and prepared to give Prescott the contract extension that he deserves.

Vice president Stephen Jones said they would like to get a deal done with Prescott before the start of the 2019 season.

“He certainly deserves to be paid fairly,” Jones said on ESPN 103.3 FM. “He’s a fourth-round pick out of Mississippi State, as we all know. He’s never made a lot of money, per se, with his contract. Certainly deserves to be paid and be paid fairly.”

Jones, however, didn’t go into details on what “fairly” entails.

But the Cowboys are planning to sign Prescott to a team-friendly deal rather than one that makes him the highest paid player in the NFL in hopes of building a roster than can compete for a Super Bowl.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the league’s highest paid player with an annual salary of $33 million. Jones has consistently said the Cowboys plan to pay Prescott market value but that number will likely between $27 million-$30 million rather than topping Rodgers by setting a new standard.

“I know Dak wants this, you want a supporting cast,” Jones said. “That’s the way to go down as being one of the great quarterbacks to ever play the game: win championships. There’s been a lot of good players who won a lot of games and have good stats, but if you don’t have championships, certainly there’s an empty feeling there. I know Dak. His No. 1 goal here is to win Super Bowl championships. He’s a winner; he’s a leader.

“I just feel good that we’ll find our way to a place that the contract enables us to surround him with a great supporting cast, which a lot of is in place. If you look at our offensive line, look at our receiving core, you look at Zeke, a lot of it’s there. Obviously, with [Jason] Witten coming back and some young tight ends, certainly that’s a nice spot for us, too. So we’ve just gotta keep building on that and be able to fit Dak in.”

The Cowboys just finished giving defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence a team-record deal worth $105 million for five years. They would like to address deals with Prescott and receiver Amari Cooper next.

Jones acknowledged they have yet to begin negotiations with Prescott.

“There’s two sides to this,” Jones said. “We’ve really never just gotten into the weeds in terms with Dak himself in terms of what his preference is. I know he’s focused on winning and really getting as many players as he can out there working so we can have a great team next year. At the same time, I’m sure it’ll be coming. There will be a point in time where we all get around and say, ‘Hey, let’s get this done by a certain time and put it behind us.’”

Jones, however, reiterated there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Prescott is the team’s present and future at quarterback. He is not only deserving of a new deal but he is the right man to give one too because he is a leader and a winner.

“I just think he’s got rare intangibles: his ability to interact with the team [in the] off-season, during the season, on the field, off the field,” Jones said. “He’s very well respected by all parts of our team, and that’s rare. Some guys get along with DBs, some guys get along with their receivers, some guys get along with the offensive line. Dak just has a way with not only getting along with the offensive side of the ball, but with all facets of the team. So his leadership skills.

“He’s the hardest worker out there. He sets the tone. He’s what we’re all about. I just think that’s hard to find. I think it’s rare and I think he just has those leadership skills and intangibles. Players love to play for him. I think that’s why he’s had so much success winning.”

Prescott has led the Cowboys to two division titles in three years as quarterback. He has a 32-16 record as a starter and is 12-6 in the NFC East. Jones compared the Cowboys success under Prescott to that of the New England Patriots and believes that winning the division will lead its way to Super Bowl success.

“Some people want to point to he doesn’t quite do this as well as you’d like, or that, but at the end of the day he’s a winner,” Jones said. “He’s 12-6 in the NFC East, which is where you gotta start year in and year out. When you’re in the NFC East you start out by winning it. The Patriots are a great example over in the AFC. They start out by winning their division. They get their byes, they get their home-field advantage. That’s how they win championships. They set a good template.

“And Dak’s a winner and been able to win games in the East 2-to-1. We just need that to continue and need to build on that.”

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Clarence E. Hill Jr. has covered the Dallas Cowboys as a beat writer/columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram since 1997. That includes just two playoff wins, six coaches and countless controversies from the demise of the dynasty teams of the 1990s through the rollercoaster years of the Tony Romo era until Jason Garrett’s process Cowboys.