Are Cowboys Not Signing QB Dak Prescott So They Can Tag Him?

Mike Fisher

ARLINGTON - The Dallas Cowboys' plan regarding Dak Prescott is, I'm told this morning, unchanged from where it's been for months. It is, as Jerry Jones recently told me, all about "Betting our future on Dak.''

Nevertheless, again this Sunday morning come reports of inactivity, or at least relative inactivity, with the respected Ian Rapoport of NFL Network suggesting that Dak and Dallas might be heading for a no-deal season followed by a franchise-tagging of the QB, which would pay him about $33 million in 2020.

Rap, in fact, writes about this pretty boldly, saying that Prescott and the Cowboys "are headed to the franchise tag.''

I suppose "at this point'' is a phrase that as Jerry would put it, is "fungible.'' Because "at this point'' can be a new point with a single phone call.

I've reported that $33 million (that tag figure) just happens to be the APY middle ground for what Dallas has offered as a basement ($30 mil) and what I believe Dak would consider a rightful payday ($36 mil). And another "just happens to be'':

The Cowboys for months have been committed to paying Dak Prescott like a “top-five QB.” Call it a mathematical coincidence, but it just so happens that Dak and the Dallas offense are piling up “top-five numbers.”

We are at the midway point of the NFL season and approaching the Sunday night kickoff of Vikings-at-Cowboys. To this point, Dallas is 5-3 and in terms of “body of work,” Dak and the offense have carries their weight. Consider all of the “top fives” (hat-tip Jon Machota):

TD passes of 50-plus yards since 2016:

-Tom Brady: 11

-Philip Rivers: 11

-Dak Prescott: 10

-Carson Wentz: 9

-Patrick Mahomes: 9

This stack belies the notion that Dak “can’t throw deep” (and also belies the criticism that the coaching staff doesn’t let him).

Passes of 20-or-more yards:

-Russell Wilson: 26 of 49, 824 yds, 7 TD, 138.0 rating

-Matthew Stafford: 23 of 57, 810 yds, 6 TD, 86.3

-Dak Prescott: 21 of 40, 721 yds, 8 TD, 106.3

-Deshaun Watson: 20 of 43, 681 yds, 5 TD, 112.3

-Aaron Rodgers: 19 of 45, 669 yards, 5 TD, 126.4

What the critics might say here: How many of Dak’s splash-play passes are really dink-and-dunk tosses transformed into YAC? My answer: Does Brady not do that with Edelman and White? Does Mahomes not do that with Tyreek and his running backs?

NFL’s top total offenses:

-Cowboys: 437 yards per game

-Ravens: 427

-Texans: 397

-Seahawks: 395

-Lions: 391

I think many NFL fans would be shocked by Dallas being atop this stack. ... and I know many Cowboys critics would insist “this is all Ezekiel Elliott.” Folks, look at all the numbers above; that cannot be accomplished with a “bad” QB.

NFL’s top scoring offenses:

-Ravens: 31 points per game

-Patriots: 30

-49ers: 29

-Buccaneers: 29

-Cowboys: 28

This stack doesn’t erase the offensive flop in that 12-10 loss at New Orleans and it’s not salve for the wound of the improbable loss at the Jets (in which Dak was typically valiant in the late-going.) And it doesn't erase mistakes made by the QB, as he'll be the first to tell you.

"Inexcusable,'' said Dak of his interceptions in particular. "We’ll find a way to be aggressive without turnovers."

Additionally, of course, the positive numbers and Dak's positive view guarantee nothing about Sunday. But taken as a whole? It’s “top-five” justification for an eventual Dak Prescott contract extension that’s going to be “top-five” as well. And while the clock is ticking, I don't think it's clicking ominously, or even loudly. Not yet.

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