This is some about-face from Dak Prescott.
Layered in Dak’s uncharacteristically brash remarks is not-so-subtle contempt for the franchise tag, which Dallas has at its disposal — and are expected to use — if long-term negotiations with the former Pro Bowl passer continue to stall.
“We’ll get to that when we get to that,” Prescott told reporters Thursday, via the Dallas Morning News. “I look forward to talking to my agents and when that [franchise tag] comes to play, the direction that we’ll go. Until that’s a reality, I won’t worry about it. But I do feel like some of this should get done. I’m a little disappointed that it hasn’t, but that’s part of it.”
The sides, Cowboys VP Stephen Jones previously revealed, were on the precipice of an agreement before the start of the 2019 season. And although talks eventually crumbled, creating a nationally-documented standstill, the team plans to reach an accord with its “quarterback of the future,” who’s scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on March 18.
“It’s been urgent for us,” Jones said last week at the Senior Bowl, via Pro Football Talk. “We certainly want to get that done. That’s our No. 1 priority as we go into the offseason is to . . . hopefully find some resolution to it and get that done.”
Prescott reportedly is seeking a pact worth $40 million annually, which would make him the richest signal-caller in the sport’s history. While that likely won’t materialize, he’s primed to reset the positional landscape until Houston rewards Deshaun Watson or Kansas City hands reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes what is sure to be a gargantuan extension.
The Cowboys will take roughly $81 million in salary-cap room into free agency, enough to assuage Dak’s financial desires, if they so choose. The franchise tag is projected to cost nearly $27 million — fully guaranteed. The deadline to apply the tag is March 10.
“You would hope and you would think something is going to get done, right?” Prescott said. “I mean, you would have thought something would have gotten done before the season. In my brain, it only says that it gets done. Without the tag. … I don’t think any of that is necessary. But that’s business. That’s all calculated. That’s all on them.”
Prescott put a bow atop his rookie contract — earning “just” $2.025 million — with a career year. He threw for 4,902 yards, one shy of the club’s single-season record, and spearheaded the league’s top-ranked offense in yards per game and second-best aerial attack.
He stopped short of threatening a respite to Cabo, a la Ezekiel Elliott, but Prescott wouldn’t commit to showing his face at team headquarters, nor training in Texas this offseason, until a new deal is struck.
“Report that,” Prescott said Thursday. “Be sure to report that.”
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As mentioned, Prescott was bullish about signing a new contract with the Cowboys. Three times during a recent segment on NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport’s podcast, live from the Super Bowl festivities in Miami, the 26-year-old signal-caller used the word “confidence” to detail ongoing talks.
“I’ve got confidence something will get done,” he said on RapSheet + Friends, per the team’s official website. “Obviously being the Cowboys quarterback is second to none. There’s very few positions in all of sports that are comparable to it. So when you put that in perspective, my mindset is to be in Dallas and I’ve got the confidence in my team to get something done and the confidence in the Cowboys that we’ll be able to.”
The Cowboys have over two-dozen unsigned players careening toward free agency, some more important than others: Prescott, wide receiver Amari Cooper, and cornerback Byron Jones, to name a few. Cooper, Jones said, is the No. 2 priority behind Prescott.
Their Prescott precedent stems from new head coach Mike McCarthy, who’s vowed to revolve the offense around the 2016 fourth-round draft pick. Dak shared a brief phone conversation with McCarthy, in many ways the antithesis of predecessor Jason Garrett, and claimed he’s “excited for him to lead our team.”
“He’s got a Super Bowl (in 2010 with the Packers),” Prescott said on Rapoport’s podcast, per the team website. “…When a guy has that and he comes into the locker room to lead, people want to follow. We want to follow because he has something and he knows how to get something that we want.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL