Offseason changes mean the Cowboys need Dak Prescott. What’s his future in Dallas?
With his third season as the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys looming, Dak Prescott faces his most crucial campaign yet.
The Cowboys are aiming for a postseason return, but Prescott’s 2018 performance will also have a significant impact on negotiations with the organization for a contract extension. Prescott stressed he hasn’t thought specifically about what the structure of a deal might be but said he would also take the team’s needs into consideration.
“That’s all good money, and that’s all big money, honestly,” Prescott told USA TODAY last week in a phone conversation. “I haven’t decided, or haven’t even talked about whether it’s a fully guaranteed deal, all up front, or whatever, short-term deal or make it long term. I’ve got to take care of myself and take care of my family.
“But at the same time, I want to do what’s best to get good players around me and keep good players around me, because that’s how you win.
“So if it’s short term to allow other players to get paid, or long term because I want to continue to stay a Cowboy and that helps the organization, we’ll get there when that time comes.”
Matt Ryan signed an extension with the Atlanta Falcons during this offseason, giving him $30 million a season and $100 million guaranteed, both of which set NFL records. Earlier, Kirk Cousins signed a threeyear, fully guaranteed deal worth $84 million with the Minnesota Vikings.
And yet Prescott, a fourthround pick in 2016, remains one of the best bargains in the NFL, set to earn $630,000 this year in base salary.
While the Cowboys still have Prescott’s rights for 2019 and could tender the franchise tag on him, it’s common for teams to look to lock up ascending players, especially quarterbacks, to long-term deals prior to entering the last year of the contract.
“Personally, it’s about winning, man,” Prescott said. “When it comes to the contract, we know this is a year where it’s going to happen in some form or fashion. For me it’s just about focusing on being the best I can.
“Being the best quarterback I can to make sure we win a lot of games so that I can show this organization what I can do and what I can do for many years to come. I know if I do that and win a bunch of games, go out there and win a Super Bowl, that money will take care of itself.
“Yeah, it’s a big year, but it’s a big year because it’s Year 3. It’s a huge year because it’s the next year.”
During spring workouts, there were signs that Prescott is growing more comfortable in his role as the team’s franchise quarterback. It wasn’t that Prescott wasn’t vocal before, but now he has no choice but to speak up given the void left by veteran tight end Jason Witten’s retirement and receiver Dez Bryant’s release.
“You can see him thinking at a different level and just being more comfortable in our offense, and then challenging everyone else to play at that level with him,” center Travis Frederick said. “People gravitate to him naturally. People want to follow him.
“Guys are looking to him for that, and he’s accepting of that, and he knows his responsibility.”
Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said in May at the team’s golf outing that Dallas has budgeted to pay Prescott “as he deserves” and added that he hopes the final contract numbers are “up there,” based on the quarterback’s play.
Prescott spoke to USA TODAY on behalf of the Ready. Raise. Rise. campaign, which is holding the Pic Your Power challenge.
If 100 people submit photos of themselves holding up a sign with the hashtag #ReadyRaise Rise at ReadyRaiseRise.com, Bristol-Myers Squibb will pledge $250,000 to 35 advocacy groups that support people affected by cancer.
Prescott, whose mother, Peggy, died after fighting colon cancer, has supported various causes to promote education and research to fight the disease.
“I’m just allowing her to be my story,” Prescott said. “That’s what I’m doing and that’s why I’m here. It puts it in perspective what she went through and the grit and the selflessness type of fighter she was.
“That’s why it’s important for me to reach out and to be a part of the Ready. Raise. Rise. campaign so we can educate and help bring oncology research to people who need it.”
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott has averaged 3,495.5 yards passing and 22.5 TD passes during his first two NFL seasons. He also has rushed for six TDs both years.