Three days ago, ESPN’s Adam Schefter used the word “inevitable” to characterize ongoing negotiations between the Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott. The NFL insider believes the talks, having hit an “impasse,” will culminate with Dallas applying the franchise tag to the former Pro Bowl passer.
On Tuesday, Hall-of-Fame quarterback Troy Aikman weighed in with his own take. Centered around its own inevitability, his projection differs drastically from what Schefter’s sources surmised.
“I think the Cowboys, they’ve said it, I believe they really want him back. I have no reason to think otherwise,” Aikman said in a radio interview, via the Dallas Morning News. “I believe Mike McCarthy really wants him back. Dak wants to be there. I think it’s inevitable that they are going to reach a deal.
“I think everyone understands that he’s the quarterback of the future.”
Schefter reported Sunday there’s “no long-term contract in sight” for Prescott, as the sides still cannot settle on a monetary value. Although the Cowboys “strongly prefer” a multi-year deal, they’ve engaged in fruitless negotiations over the last several months “without coming close to a resolution.”
Prescott recently expressed disappointment over oft-stalled discussions and contempt toward the franchise tag, which would pay him roughly $27 million — guaranteed — for 2020.
“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.”
Prescott, who walked back previous optimism about a new pact, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on March 18. The deadline to use the tag is March 10, after which the team would have until July 15 to sign him long term.
He wouldn’t commit to showing his face at The Star, nor even training this offseason in North Texas, absent a new contract.
Aikman, however, doesn’t envision a holdout a la Ezekiel Elliott.
“I think he, first and foremost, would want to be there because it would make him better,” he said of Prescott. “And then secondly, he would want to be there for his teammates, and I’m not sure that one takes priority over the other.”
“My guess is they work something out,” Aikman added. “I don’t know this, but it would seem that they probably could have gotten a deal done earlier for what ultimately would be a little less than what they are probably going to have to do it for now.”
“Probably” holds a ton of water here as nobody truly knows when Prescott’s deal will get done or how much Dallas is willing to offer the 26-year-old, who reportedly demanded $40 million annually before turning in career highs with 4,902 passing yards, one shy of the club’s single-season record, and 30 air touchdowns in 2019.
The Cowboys will take about $77 million in salary-cap room into free agency, and locking down the organizational cornerstone is vice president Stephen Jones’ admittedly “urgent” priority in the weeks ahead.
If the brain trust were smart, Aikman inferred, they’ll find a middle ground with Prescott as soon as possible, for fear of the QB market — expected to be shattered by Kansas City Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes — further resetting.
“I think that with each month that passes, every couple of months that pass I think the price goes up at least a little bit as other deals get done,” Aikman said.
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Cowboys Among Shortlist of Favorites to Land Tom Brady
Unless and until they put pen to paper with Prescott, the Cowboys will continue being dot-connected to available quarterbacks. And Tom Brady tops the list.
Despite the team’s admitted disinterest in the future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, Las Vegas oddsmakers have different designs, grouping the Cowboys among six favorites for Brady’s services.
Dallas was given 9/1 odds to sign the longtime Patriots field general, who, like Prescott, is scheduled to reach unrestricted free agency on March 18 for the first time in his illustrious career. The Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts were also designated at 9/1.
Heading the frontrunners are the Las Vegas Raiders (3/1), followed by the Los Angeles Chargers (4/1), and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7/1).
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL