His supporting cast struggled with that task last season. In fact, no NFL QB suffered more air yards lost on dropped receptions — 392 — than Prescott, according to Pro Football Focus.
Air yards lost on dropped passes 2019
1. Dak Prescott – 392
2. Carson Wentz – 391
3. Deshaun Watson – 363
4. Philip Rivers – 326
5. Jimmy Garoppolo – 317 pic.twitter.com/b4G4652npE
— PFF (@PFF) June 6, 2020
That Prescott finished 2019 with a career-high 4,902 passing yards (one shy of tying the single-season franchise record) isn’t entirely a testament to his teammates. At times, perfectly-placed balls slipped right through the grasp of Dallas’ butter-fingered pass-catchers.
Consider: Michael Gallup ranked second in the league with 11 drops on 113 targets, and Randall Cobb tied for sixth with eight drops on 83 targets. Even the most dependable options, Jason Witten (six drops) and Amari Cooper (five), failed their field general in spots last year.
To be fair, Dak isn’t blameless, either. His much-criticized ball placement wasn’t consistent across all 16 games, with throws fluttering high, low, or behind his intended marks, especially after a late-season shoulder injury.
But there’s something to be said for his personal-best 30 touchdowns, 388 completions, 8.2 yards-per-average, and 68 completions of 20-plus yards. His 65.1-percent completion rate and 99.7 passer rating were the second-highest of his career. He was also pretty deadly on deep shots.
Dak Prescott's Passer Rating on Deep Passes (20+ yards):
— PFF DAL Cowboys (@PFF_Cowboys) June 4, 2020
Fortunately for Prescott, two of the biggest offenders — Cobb (Texans) and Witten (Raiders) — are now playing elsewhere. Gallup remains. Cooper remains. And in comes first-round rookie WR CeeDee Lamb, who averaged 21.4 yards per catch in 2019 and never dropped a pass of 20 yards or more across his three seasons at Oklahoma.
Prescott is far from a perfect signal-caller, and one could argue he isn’t even a top-six option. He has his faults, enough of them to cause the Cowboys consternation over a potentially record-setting contract extension. The 26-year-old still has room to grow; few deny it.
However, what your eye test didn’t tell you was that Dak’s help was questionable, at best, and largely unreliable, at worst. If this manages to change in 2020, it’s fair to wonder whether he takes a massive step forward, propelling the club back into the playoffs — and himself into the upper echelon.
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Cowboys Dinged for Taking ‘Biggest Risk’ With Prescott
According to Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox, the Cowboys’ biggest risk for the 2020 season involves playing “contract Russian Roulette” with the franchise-tagged quarterback, who remains deadlocked in long-term negotiations.
Waiting to get a deal done will potentially cost Dallas a hefty chunk of cash, too. Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Houston Texans signal-caller Deshaun Watson are also in line for new deals that could set the bar for Prescott and his agent.
That bar could top $40 million per year, according to the Houston Chronicle‘s Aaron Wilson. Per Wilson, Watson could be looking at a deal in the $40-42 million range annually.
With the Cowboys recently giving lucrative extensions to running back Ezekiel Elliott and wideout Amari Cooper, a $40 million salary for Prescott may be tough to swallow. Waiting to extend their quarterback could put the Cowboys in a position where they cannot keep their core pieces in place.
The latest proposal reportedly floated from Dallas to Dak would pay the 26-year-old just under $35 million per year — falling short of surpassing Seattle’s Russell Wilson as the league’s highest-paid player on an annual basis — but includes guarantees close (if not equal) to Los Angeles’ Jared Goff’s record-setting $110 million.
The Cowboys and Prescott have until July 15 to reach an agreement, or else the latter will be forced to play the 2020 campaign on his $31.4 million franchise tender, which he’s yet to sign.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL