FRISCO - Maybe former Dallas Cowboys Jimmy Johnson is playing chess while the rest of us are playing checkers. But we're struggling to figure out the logic in the now-FOX analyst's strategy in Cowboys roster-building that has him recommending that owner Jerry Jones' team both:
*Sign Dak Prescott to a massive long-term deal to be the club's "franchise QB.''
*Use a super-premium pick in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft to select another "franchise QB.''
First, to the oft-stated position of the Jones family on this subject: They are not conceding to any thoughts of turning away from the injured Prescott as their franchise centerpiece.
"Dak's our quarterback,'' said COO Stephen Jones recently when asked about the concept of using a premium first-round pick on a QB. "We're so fired up about him and leading us into the future. ... We're fired up about our future with Dak."
Later, owner Jerry Jones reiterated the point - with color.
"You asked me if it was crazy to bring the idea up, and I'm answering you,'' Jones said. "It's nothing to be talking about at all. Dak is our quarterback."
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Prescott, of course, is out for the season after ankle surgery. Jones said he is "ahead of schedule'' (maybe with a four-month recovery time rather than the projected five-to-six months) and the franchise remains confident that it will come to an agreement with Prescott after the end of this season. It is at that time when it can again negotiate with the player on the franchise tag.
Prescott is set to be an unrestricted free agent after this season after playing on the $31.4 million franchise tag in 2020. The Cowboys can tag him again next March, at a cost of $37.7 million. That is obviously their plan; it would make no sense to let one of the team's best players to walk.
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But would it make sense for Dallas to explore the selection of potential standout QBs like Clemson's Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State's Justin Fields?
The Cowboys' answer is "no,'' as the commitment to Prescott remains.
That commitment last offseason meant the Cowboys offering Prescott and agent Todd France a five-year deal that included about $110 million in guaranteed money and an average salary per year of about $35 million. But Prescott sought a four-year deal, and next offseason, could want $40 million APY.
But if the Cowboys' answer is "no,'' but Jimmy's answer is "yes,'' what are we missing here? If you have Dak, and are paying him, say, $200 million over five years, why do you need Justin Fields? And if the idea is to eventually trade Fields (ala Steve Walsh, who amazingly netted the Cowboys a first-, second- and third-round pick in a 1990 heist from New Orleans) ... why not simply trade the pick without bothering with the player?
And most of all: If Dallas makes a $200 million commitment to Dak Prescott, why get "cute'' with adjoining moves rather than simply using the high pick to help build Prescott a better roster?
We so respect the football mind of Jimmy Johnson that we want to work under the assumption that we're missing something. But until we know more? We're going with Jerry here. We're going with "crazy.''