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Sources: While QB Dak Prescott Thinks Contract Can Come Without It, Cowboys Plan To Use Tag

QB Dak Prescott Is Wishing, Hoping, Thinking. 'My Brain Says (I Can Get My) Cowboys Contract Without The Franchise Tag,' He Says - But Sources Tell CowboysSI.com That Dallas Plans Otherwise

Dak Prescott this week at the Super Bowl in Miami publicly flirted with the idea of withholding his services from the Dallas Cowboys this offseason while he awaits an improved contract offer that beats the "top-five QB money'' offer that the two sides almost agreed to in September.

"Report that," Dak said while making his media rounds, when asked about how he might not spend his offseason in Frisco. "Be sure to report that."

Some considered that an "ominous'' threat. But Cowboys Nation will want to pair that remark from Dak with something he said in the next breath, or in the next interview along Radio Row, or in the next chair along the lengthy TV Car Wash.

"In my brain,'' Prescott said, "it only says that (a new contract) gets done ... Without the tag.''

So you have your "ominous'' over there and now you have your "optimism'' over here. In between is the truth, as sources with knowledge of the negotiations are telling CowboysSI.com that the team is indeed planning to utilize the franchise tag on March 10.

The calendar alone suggests that Dallas - as "urgent'' as Jerry and Stephen Jones say a solution to this issue is - would have to press the accelerator to beat the deadline to do so,

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And Dak Prescott - while he inaccurately says the pace of the negotiations is "on them'' (Cowboys management) - would have punch his accelerator, too.

Again, the deadline to utilize the franchise tag is March 10. If and when Dallas does so, it won't be as a "punishment'' or an "insult.'' It's simply the way to retain rights to a player while still negotiating. 

In the event Dak's "brain'' is right, and the tag isn't used? It'll mean that between now and the morning of March 10, a dead has been struck to make the QB the highest-paid player in franchise history.

That is 38 days from now. Possible? Sure. Likely? Harder to say.

"I don't think any of that (usage of the tag) is necessary," Prescott said. "But that's business. That's all calculated. That's all on them."

Dak Prescott is wrong about that. The so-far inability to strike a deal is the responsibility of both sides. And ticking of the 38-day clock to avoid the use of the franchise tag? Both the Cowboys and Prescott's agents hear it, loud and clear, with Dallas' plan to utilize it now in place.