An Overpaid Dak Prescott could be throwing the ball to Dez Bryant in 2020

by Jordy McElroy

Jerry Jones often thinks about a reunion with former All-Pro wideout Dez Bryant when he showers, admittedly. It would only make sense if he shampoos while searching for a solution to the disastrous contract situation involving quarterback Dak Prescott. 

Leave your rubber duck quips out of this. Grown-ups are conducting business. 

Jones has assured the Cowboys are caught between a rock and a hard place—or a wall and a showerhead—in the ensuing negotiations with Prescott. He openly referred to his 26-year-old quarterback as a family member, even going as far as comparing him to his son Stephen Jones. Then it’s right back to posturing and needing a deal that “feels right.”

Jones might love Prescott like family, but he isn’t completely convinced he can take the Cowboys back to the Super Bowl. Why else would he willingly drag his feet with the one contract that serves as the foundational piece for the entire franchise?

There are rumblings the Cowboys could eventually go the Washington Redskins and Kirk Cousins route by slapping Prescott with the franchise tag and agreeing on a short-term deal. 

That plan obviously worked out great for the Redskins. Cousins continued to collect a fat salary two years past his expiration date and still walked out the door for nothing in the end. Heads rolled like a “Game of Thrones” episode after that dumpster fire. 

The bottom line: Jones isn’t convinced Prescott is worth a blockbuster deal. 

But the rising salary cap and exorbitant prices for quarterbacks don’t care what Jones thinks. The position has become a revolving door of players resetting the market with limited options available to teams. It’s incredibly hard to hit on a franchise quarterback capable of producing consistently behind center. Agents have been able to leverage that needle-in-a-haystack argument into landing lucrative deals that aren’t necessarily reflective of the talent. 

It’s the reason why the San Francisco 49ers offered Jimmy Garoppolo a five-year, $137.5 million contract. It’s the reason why Jared Goff landed on four years for $134 million with the Los Angeles Rams. And it’ll be the reason why the Cowboys run out of options and eventually agree on a blockbuster extension with Prescott. 

Jones missed on a chance to lock Prescott up earlier and avoid the stress of paying him even more money down the road. Make no mistake, the franchise tag won’t be cheap, either. The team would essentially place a $33 million exclusive placeholder on Prescott, which would ultimately give them more time to negotiate without anyone interfering. 

It’s also a roll of the dice considering Prescott could drive the price up even further at the negotiating table in 2021 if he has a good season. 

As for a potential reunion with Bryant, it does make some sense from more than just the nostalgic element, especially if the team is unable to agree on an extension with impending free agent Amari Cooper. Granted, Bryant is too long in the tooth to step in as the No. 1 receiver, but at 31 years old, he still could have something left in the tank to help out in more of a complementary role. 

Going back to Bryant and forcing the franchise tag on Prescott would be a two steps forward and five steps back sort of situation. Jones can keep on humming during his impromptu shower brainstorming sessions, but the Cowboys won’t be if they continue on the current trajectory.