The Cowboys can’t pay Prescott like a superstar when he hasn’t proven himself to be one yet.
Dak Prescott has been a terrific bargain for the Cowboys after being drafted in the fourth round. That doesn’t mean the team should overpay him moving forward. Jerry Jones and company need to keep a cool head when it comes to their quarterback’s next contract.
Unfortunately for Cowboys fans, early indications are the team is anxious to hand Prescott a big money deal. Ownership had already gone on record as saying they would give the quarterback an “extraordinary contract.” Now Stephen Jones is saying even more troubling things. He told reporters that “no one deserves to get paid more fairly than (Prescott).”
At least the Cowboys executive vice president acknowledged that Prescott’s market won’t be consistent with what Matt Ryan just got paid. He also doesn’t expect Prescott to use Aaron Rodgers’ impending contract as a measuring stick.
The trouble is both of those quarterbacks are probably going to make more than $30 million per season. Prescott is set to make just $630,000 in base salary this season. Clearly there’s a lot of room between those two salaries. The Cowboys need to make sure they don’t get too close to Rodgers/Ryan money.
The reality is that Prescott is a good quarterback, but he isn’t a great one yet. He had a tremendous rookie year, but that was buoyed by a great deal of luck. Going through an entire NFL season as a starter and only throwing four interceptions in 459 attempts just isn’t sustainable. Last season, Prescott finished with a much more reasonable interception total with 13. That total certainly lessened his overall passing effectiveness during his second season.
This season, Prescott will face an even bigger challenge to maintain his level of play. The Cowboys enter the 2018 season without anything resembling a Pro Bowl receiver. Dez Bryant and Jason Witten are both gone. Neither was the star they once were last year, but they still were big parts of the Cowboys offense.
Their departures mean that Prescott is going to have to shoulder a bigger load this year. Instead of relying on veterans to make him look good, he’ll need to do his part to make young, relatively unproven players look good. That’s a serious role reversal for the third-year signal-caller.
The smart path forward for Dallas would be to pay close attention to how Prescott plays this season and then decide how much money to offer him next summer. They should have a much better idea of what his real market value is after seeing him try to lead the passing attack this year.
In the end, Dallas will end up giving Prescott a massive raise over his current salary. They still need to keep him on a team friendly deal moving forward, though. Paying him like an elite quarterback could hamstring the Cowboys front office for years to come.