Now that the Dallas Cowboys got their coaching situation squared away, they can — and will – turn their attention to Mike McCarthy’s new pet project.
In a radio interview with 1310 The Ticket on Friday, Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones offered an update regarding once-fervent, now-slow-rolling contract discussions with franchise quarterback Dak Prescott, who’s scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on March 18.
The sides, according to Jones, were on the precipice of an agreement before the start of the 2019 campaign. And although talks eventually crumbled, creating a nationally-documented standstill, Dallas aims to reach an accord with its “quarterback of the future” this offseason.
“We’ve got to land the plane and get his deal done,” Jones said, via Jon Machota of The Athletic. “That’s on Jerry and myself. He’s our future. I think he stepped up and improved in all ways last year. … We went over this in depth with Coach McCarthy and he thinks [Dak] is a top-end, top-caliber quarterback. We can do everything we want to do and more with Dak. [McCarthy] can’t wait to spend time with him. We’ve got to land the plane on his contract and get him signed up sooner than later. He deserves everything he has coming. We got real, real close there to start the season and just didn’t finish up. He’s so laser-focused on wanting to win football games and compete that he really didn’t want the distraction once we didn’t get it done in that first week of going back and forth with the contract. We just got to move forward. He’s our quarterback of the future. I’ll take him any time when you go to war against these guys. We’re fortunate to have him.”
It took mere minutes for McCarthy to be asked about Prescott during Wednesday’s introductory press conference. Not that he’d publicly state otherwise, but the former Packers HC genuinely is “excited” to coach up the two-time Pro Bowl passer, who’s coming off a career season with 4,902 passing yards, one shy of the team’s all-time single-season record held by Tony Romo.
“What he’s done so far is very impressive,” McCarthy said of Prescott, per WFAA’s Mike Leslie. “I think like a lot of us, in the league, you watch people from afar. But when you have a chance to watch a player live, and I can recall his rookie year when we played him in Green Bay, so I’ve always been impressed with him. You’re gonna be able to run the whole offense and then some. And I think he has an incredible foundation to build off of. Our offensive system will be built around making the quarterback successful. That’s the way I’ve learned it, and that’s the way I believe you play offense. We have a great one there to work with.”
McCarthy’s strong support of Prescott should help the 26-year-old secure his long-sought-after and highly-lucrative deal prior to sniffing the open market. Considering McCarthy’s noted work with future Hall-of-Famer Aaron Rodgers, the Cowboys have to feel better about backing up the Brink’s truck.
Taking a massive step forward under the tutelage of offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, Prescott finished this season second in passing behind only Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston. The Cowboys produced the league’s top offense in yards per game (431.5) and the second-best passing attack (296.6 YPG).
Prescott reportedly is seeking a contract worth $40 million annually, which would set a new NFL record. Dallas boasts enough salary-cap space (a projected $81 million) to assuage his financial wants, but they also have the franchise tag at their disposal — and are expected to execute it — should discussions once again bottom out.
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Jones Addresses McCarthy’s Revamped Coaching Staff
Thus far, and while nothing’s official, the Cowboys have hired a new defensive coordinator (Mike Nolan), special teams coordinator (John Fassel), assistant head coach/offensive line coach (Joe Philbin), and defensive line coach (Jim Tomsula), according to recent media reports.
McCarthy, likely to handle play-calling duties, also hopes to retain Moore on the offensive staff while adding Texas run game coordinator Stan Drayton, who coached Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott at Ohio State.
The revamped coaching staff, largely absent of Jason Garrett holdovers, is quickly coming together, and it’s comprised of men whose NFL resumes date back decades — three former head coaches and another whose father (Fassel) sat in the big seat.
“He’s pleasantly surprised and pleasantly ahead of where he thought he could be at this time,” Jones said, via The Athletic. “He’s getting a lot of people in place quickly.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL