After a Super Wild Card weekend, we are now down to the final four.
‘Over to you, Dak’. That’s what Jerry Jones could be saying after signing former Cincinnati Bengal Andy Dalton to a one-year deal worth up to US$7 million with US$3 million guaranteed to serve as Dak Prescott’s backup for the 2020-21 NFL season.
Contract negotiations between Prescott and the Cowboys have been ongoing for well over a year, with neither side willing to budge. The main sticking point is said to be the length of the contract, not necessarily the money per year, with most fans happy with the Cowboys offering between $30 million and $33 million a season, which would put him in the top five for quarterback salaries. Seahawk Russell Wilson is top of the list with US$35 million a year.
Looking at Prescott’s CV, it’s not difficult to understand why he’s holding out for his money. In all four seasons he’s been a Cowboys starter and has played every game, going 40-24 across those four years. His durability is impressive – he’s never been injured or even banged up until last season, when shoulder and finger problems hampered him, but to credit his toughness, Prescott played through.
Prescott’s numbers make for good reading: 15,778 pass yards, 97 touchdowns to only 36 interceptions with a passer rating of 97 to go with his 1221 rush yards and franchise-leading 21 rushing touchdowns. Add to this his eight fourth-quarter comebacks and 14 game-winning drives as well as him being a two-time Pro Bowler and holding two division titles and all the signs point to Dak getting paid.
So that begs the question: what’s the hold-up?.
If the is one knock on Prescott it’s that he needs help around him to be successful. With a top-three running back in Zeke Elliott, a top-five receiver in Amari Cooper and one of the best offensive lines in football, Dak has not got the Cowboys to the promised land of the Super Bowl. As we have seen when Prescott has all the weapons, he is a more than capable quarterback, but without them he’s a shell of himself.
That’s what makes last season so worrying. Dak had all the weapons and still couldn’t get it done – although in his defence his receivers led the league in catchable passes dropped. Prescott was getting the ball out to his playmakers but they were letting him down.
Then there were all the very questionable coaching decisions, most notably leaving No. 1 weapon Amari Cooper and slot receiver Randall Cobb both on the sidelines for the fourth down call in which the Cowboys were just outside the red zone needing a touchdown and a two-point conversion to draw level with the Eagles. Post-game head coach Jason Garrett stated he did not think it gave them the best chance on the play to have them both out there. I mean, seriously?
Everything points to Dak earning the right to hold out for his money, and that’s where Andy Dalton comes in. A more than decent backup quarterback from the Bengals, Dalton is more than capable of leading a franchise. During his nine-year career Dalton has gone 70-61-2, throwing for over 30,000 yards, 204 touchdowns and 118 interceptions along with 21 fourth-quarter comebacks and 24 game-winning drives. During play-offs, however, Dalton is a shadow of his regular-season self, going 0-4 in his four post-season games, throwing for only 873 yards, one touchdown and six interceptions.
So Prescott and his agent continue to hold out for what they think they deserve, but some of their leverage has been somewhat lost thanks to the signing of Dalton to potentially replace him if the holdout continues into the season.
Both sides now have ammunition for their respective negotiations. THe question is: who blinks first?