That Andy Dalton received $3 million fully guaranteed, with another $4 million available via incentives, isn’t an indication the Cowboys prefer to pay a 32-year-old backup quarterback over their 26-year-old starting signal-caller.
“Obviously, it has no bearing on Dak,” Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones said Wednesday on 105.3 The Fan, via ESPN’s Ed Werder. “Dak is the quarterback of our franchise now, and for many years to come. We’ve gotta get his contract—we’ve gotta get over that hurdle. But we’ll do it, it’ll ultimately get done.”
These days, as talks between Prescott and the club are moving at a glacial pace, Jones is preaching positivity. Unlike his father, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who stated last month there’s no time frame to hammer out the megadeal, Stephen “totally believes” the sides will reach an agreement at “the right number.”
“No one thinks more of Dak Prescott than Jerry Jones and myself. I know [coach] Mike [McCarthy], when he signed on, part of why he signed on was Dak Prescott. It’s just getting it done,” Jones said on a recent episode of SportsCenter, via The Athletic and Bleacher Report. “The bigger these deals get, Jerry and I have always found that to be the case in business, the bigger the dollars get, the harder they get. We believe in our track record of getting players signed. I totally believe we’ll get Dak signed at the right number that’s good for Dak, good for the Cowboys, good for this team. And I think at the end of the day, the fact that we’re getting some nice hype for our draft, I think he’s going to want to get in here and get with these players, whether it’s CeeDee Lamb or anyone else. He wants to win.”
Deadlocked in discussions since last September, Prescott has reportedly rejected at least two proposals in excess of $33 million annually as he seeks to become the league’s highest-paid signal-caller, a title that currently belongs to Seattle’s Russell Wilson ($35 million per year). Unless Dallas increases its offer or Dak lowers his demand, the parties will continue haggling.
A major hold-up is length; the player prefers a four-year pact, with a chance to hit the market again at 30, while the team wants a five- or six-year deal, standard operating procedure for in-house extensions.
The Cowboys applied the exclusive franchise tag to Prescott on March 16. They have until July 15 to strike a pact. Failing that, the two-time Pro Bowl passer will be forced to play 2020 on the $31.4 million tag, which he’s yet to sign.
“When we’re ready to play, he’ll be there,” Jerry Jones said after the NFL draft, via ESPN.
Dalton inked a one-year deal worth up to $7 million. He slides in as Prescott’s backup, replacing Cooper Rush, whom Dallas waived on Monday. Rush was subsequently claimed by the New York Giants, where he rejoins former Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett, now the Giants’ offensive coordinator.
Prescott and Dalton likely will be the only QBs on the 53-man regular-season roster, with seventh-round rookie Ben DiNucci destined for the practice squad.
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Dalton Sent Text Message to Dak After Joining Cowboys
Publicly, through four days on the job, Dalton has said all the right things about Prescott. Behind the scenes, the former Bengals field general is also doing right by the incumbent.
“I sent him a text, reaching out. That’s been about it. …I just told him I’m excited to be here, and I’m going to help in any way that I can,” Dalton revealed Wednesday during an introductory conference call with Dallas media, per Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News.
Dalton did not go into detail regarding Prescott’s reply to his message. But it was purportedly a positive response. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill reported Prescott “texted back in appreciation” to the former Bengal’s friendly overtures. SI.com’s Mike Fisher suggested the same.
Figuratively, this is the statement Dalton wanted to deliver amid his first Cowboys press conference: It’s entirely Prescott’s team, and the 32-year-old simply is there to aid the franchise-tagged passer “as much as I can.”
“I’m going to try to be the biggest asset to this team, try to help out this offense, help out Dak, help out everybody as much as I can,” Dalton said, per the Cowboys’ official website. “It’s a different perspective for me, since I’ve been a starter the last nine years, but I understand the position I’m coming into and the role I’m going to play.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL