Dak is Back
“I am healthy”. Those are the three best words Dallas Cowboy fans have heard in 6 months. What makes it better? They were spoken on Wednesday by the highest paid QB in franchise history. 6 months ago today, I wrote an article talking about the resilience and grit of Cowboys QB Dak Prescott in reaction to a devastating ankle injury. Six months later, the biggest NFL story this week is the bank-breaking contract extension signed by Prescott.
This payday didn’t come easy for Dak. He has spent half a year rehabbing and that work will end with him paid and ahead of schedule in his recovery. Prescott’s actions the last few months are the precise reason the Cowboys front office, players, and fans adore him. He has taken daily COVID tests in order to rehab at the team facility, something he was never required to do. He has gone through two ankle surgeries, one immediately following the injury and another that disrupted his rehabbing. Always in contact with his teammates, always thanking the fans for their support, always working to get back stronger than before. As a Cowboys fan, I’ll summarize it like this; we love Dak and Dak loves us. In this article, I will talk in three sections about the impact of Prescott’s contract extension; the offseason, the upcoming season, and the future. And so without further ado, let’s kick this off.
As crazy as it sounds, the Cowboys were able to pay their franchise quarterback to a record breaking deal AND save cap space. That sentence makes absolutely zero sense but lucky for Dallas, neither does the salary cap. The Eagles will pay Carson Wentz (the newest Indinapolis Colt) MORE than Dallas will pay Prescott this coming season. It’s no secret that the Cowboys need defensive help this year. In addition to the 10th pick in the draft, the Cowboys will have close to $30 million more to spend in free agency thanks Dak’s contract, contract restructures, and player cuts.
It doesn’t seem like cornerbacks Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis will be re-signed, so I expect Dallas to target at least one corner in free agency. I’m specifically looking at: William Jackson, Shaquill Griffin, and veteran Xaiver Rhodes. Dallas sould instead want to draft a CB at 10. They would then target safeties like Malik Hooker, Justin Simmons, and Keanu Neal in free agency. There might be increased mutual interest between Dallas and Neal to get a reunion done between Dan Quinn and the 2017 Pro Bowl safety. The new contract also puts an end to the ridiculous QB rumors. No blockbuster Russell Wilson trade or a stunning draft night that has Roger Goodell announcing Alabama QB Mac Jones as the newest Cowboy.
The Upcoming Season
In a weak NFC East, a healthy and monetarily happy Dak Prescott puts Dallas in prime position to win it. People forget that before the injury, Dallas was the heavy favorite to win the East even with a mediocre record and a lackluster defense. The trio of Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb at WR gives Dak a plethora of weapons to deal to, not to mention guys like Zeke Elliott, Tony Pollard, Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz. Coaching-wise, Kellen Moore returns as offensive coordinator. The offense is getting more comfortable in the Mike McCarthy system. I expect another high power season for this offense and Dak Prescott is the conductor in that belief.
The experience, poise, ability, and leadership Dak brings at the quarterback position is elite and exactly what the Cowboys need to have success this season. As Prescott said in his press conference, the best ability is availability. In order for Prescott to stay on the field, the Cowboys will have to invest in the offensive line. One way or another, this offensive line must improve. Dallas will be looking for Connor Williams and Tyler Biadasz to make big strides on the interior of the line. Tyron Smith and La’el Collins needto stay healthy. Zack Martin just has to keep being Zack Martin because that man is incredible at his job. The upcoming season looks good if Dallas makes the right improvements and it started with Dak Prescott being re-signed.
Dallas has one of the most talented rosters in the NFL. Although that doesn’t always translate to success on the field, it does set up for problems down the road off the field. Dak is going to be taking a lot of money out of the Cowboys cap space for years to come. That means there isn’t going to be enough money for everybody to go around. It seems likely guys like Michael Gallup, Leighton Vander Esch and Connor Williams could be on the way out in the near future. That means Dallas needs to strike while the iron is hot and jump through the window while it’s open. Free agency and the draft is crucial for the upcoming year.
Dallas needs to make investments in the trenches, as well as in the secondary and LB corps, short and long-term. Money doesn’t grow on trees unfortunately, so Dallas is going to have to make some hard decisions soon. In a perfect world, there’s a Super Bowl run in the near future making the fanbase so happy that we don’t care about money problems. The Cowboys are set up, at least for now, to have success. That won’t last forever unless you draft well and develop players. This offseason and upcoming season are both crucial for the future of the team. A good season this year sets up a bright few years for Dallas. A failure in 2021 brings up coaching staff and player questions that Dallas can’t afford to answer. The future can be bright, especially with Dak Prescott at the helm for at least 4 more years, but it won’t be handed to Dallas, they have to earn it.