Neither the Dallas Cowboys nor their fans want Dak Prescott to be Andy Dalton, but both the team and their legion of followers should all hope their quarterback agrees to a contract similar to that of the former TCU star.
Much like Dalton four years ago, Dak is about to get big money.
No player in the NFL right now is more polarizing than our Dak, whom no one can agree is good enough to be the difference in a playoff game, and potentially a Super Bowl.
He is either a good, improving young passer who will “get there,” but needs “good coaching.” Or, he’s a spare, fourth-round pick and the product of the talent around him.
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Our opinion doesn’t matter, of course, because the guy who signs Dak’s check is convinced he has his guy.
The scars of Quincy Carter, Clint Stoerner, Vinny Testaverde, Chad Hutchinson and other flopped QBs who succeeded Troy Aikman run deep in owner Jerry Jones. If a guy is close, Jerry is going to keep him.
Dak has one season remaining on his original rookie four-year contract, and nothing this season has given Jerry enough proof that he should not give his guy a monster extension.
Jerry is a believer, and those within the organization are convinced he will sign Dak to a big number at some point next year. Jerry made such comments earlier this season on his weekly radio show on 105.3 The Fan, and nothing has happened since then for him to shy away from those feelings.
The question is when, for how much, and what are the specifics as its relates to the salary cap, and the potential to escape the deal if it goes to the dogs.
When an NFL starting quarterback signs a contract these days, typically the money is enough to fund a small European nation for a year or two.
In April 2017, the Lions gave quarterback Matt Stafford a five-year deal worth $135 million.
Matt Stafford, in that moment, was the highest paid player in the history of the NFL. Matt Stafford.
He is 30, with now 10 years of starting experience, and a career record of 65-74.
In Feb. ‘18, with seven NFL starts on his resume, the San Francisco 49ers gave Jimmy Garoppolo a five-year deal worth $137.5 million. At the time, he was the highest paid player in the league.
In Aug. ‘18, the Packers gave Aaron Rodgers a four-year extension that made him the highest-paid player in the league; the deal could be worth as much as $180 million.
But you get it. He’s Aaron Rodgers.
These are the numbers that scare the stuff out of Cowboys fans at the thought of Jerry giving Dak that check. Once the QB signs that franchise-QB contract, he is the franchise QB.
So if the Cowboys are going to give Dak a five-year deal, which they will, hope that it is structured something akin to Dalton’s. In 2014, Dalton agreed to a six-year, $115 million contract.
The way the contract was structured, however, it acted more like a series of one-year deals; for a starting NFL quarterback, the cap hits and the potential “damage” to the team was minimal if at any point the Bengals decided to cut him.
That has not happened, of course, as Dalton has become generationally wealthy as a decent NFL QB while the Bengals are destined to remain the Bengals.
Dalton is the best-case for the overly-concerned Cowboys fan who shudders at the thought of their team giving Dak franchise-QB cash.
What Jerry is banking on, and that you must hope for, is that Dak is not a finished product; that Dak has not hit his ceiling.
When Jerry handed Tony Romo a six-year, $67 million extension in 2007, the quarterback was still an improving player who every offseason made something a priority to improve. He never stopped trying to add something, or tweak an area or two of his game.
Now, he frustrated fans with some bonehead decisions in his tenure, but he never stopped improving. Ultimately, that was the strength of his game from the time he was a kid, and why he made it.
The sad part for Romo was by the time he had figured it all out, his body could no longer do the work.
Dak is only 25, is a good, big athlete who has demonstrated he can win NFL games in three full seasons as the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys.
The team is 31-16 with Dak as the starting quarterback. You can dissect his passing numbers all you want, and God knows people have, but like any employee what matters the most is that Dak’s boss believes in him.
Jerry is a believer, so Dak is going to get paid.
We can only hope it works.