Dallas Cowboys

How Cowboys QB Dak Prescott struck all the right chords on Zeke Elliott, his contract

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As you would expect, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott struck all the right chords when he spoke to the media for the first time on the opening day of training camp.

He showed respect for running back Ezekiel Elliott, offering no commentary on his holdout.

“We’ve talked,” Prescott said. “Quick communications. But that’s all business. That’s for him to handle. For my job right now, it’s just come out here and make sure this team is getting better. I’m making sure I’m getting myself better and everyone out here. That’s my main focus is being the best team we can be with everyone here. We know he will take care of himself.

He declined to go into details about his own protracted contract talks with the Cowboys, which appear to be in a stalemate.

Prescott said his focus was on the team and getting better each day in training camp. He said he wouldn’t let himself get distracted.

“I’m not here to talk about my contract and that stuff,” Prescott said. “Talks, I’m sure, at this point are continuously happening. For me, it’s to come out here and focus on this, not be distracted by any of that stuff, any of that conversation, just focus on being better, just being the best player I can be and making sure everyone around me is as well.”

Asked if he would like it taken care of by start of regular season, Prescott didn’t blink.

“It will happen when it happens,” he said continuing to stick to the script. “I know I’ll be better by the time the regular season starts. As I said, that’s my focus.”

But when asked if he would table talks if a deal wasn’t done by the start of the season, Prescott finally cracked.

“One more time?” Prescott queried.

The question was repeated and Prescott then copied a line from owner Jerry Jones on Friday when he pretended not to hear a question regarding coach Jason Garrett’s job security.

“What did Jerry do yesterday? I didn’t hear you,” Prescott said with a laugh and a smile.

And therein lies the biggest difference between the Prescott and Elliott’s negotiations with the Cowboys, aside from the quarterback being here in camp and the running back holding out.

Prescott can laugh and joke about the situation because there is little doubt on both sides that a deal will get done before the start of the regular season.

If the Cowboys had their way, they will sign Prescott before they signed deals with Elliott and receiver Amari Cooper, who are all in simultaneous negotiations.

His is the bigger deal and it would allow the Cowboys to know what they are working under the cap for the other contracts.

Prescott, who came the Cowboys as a fourth round pick and is slated to make just $2 million in 2019, stands to earn between $30-32 million annually in new money whenever he gets the deal done with the Cowboys.

So Prescott can smile and joke.

He knows generational wealth is coming.

But also knows pressure to win and be successful will grow exponentially as well.

Just getting to the playoffs and winning one game is not good enough anymore, not that it ever was in Dallas.

“We have high expectations,” Prescott said. “I think our expectations for this team, I know mine, are probably higher than anyone’s, so pressure is what you create. You put pressure on yourself. When you come in and you focus on what you’re supposed to do and you focus on the things that you can control the pressure goes out the window or those things really don’t matter because you know that you’re in control.

“That’s my mindset and I know that’s this team’s mindset. If we can continue for that to be contagious and everybody have that, we’ll put ourselves in a great position.”

More importantly, this is something Prescott has prepared for his entire life. He was made for this.

“As I said, I signed up for this position as a little boy, a long time ago, knowing that you take the heat and you get the credit,” Prescott said. “That’s part of it. That’s something that I love, something that pushes me, something that drives me. As I said, pressure’s what you put on yourself. For me, it’s just about focusing on things that I can control, and as long as I do that, it will be great.”

That’s not script. That is real.

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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.