Where are Dallas Cowboys and quarterback Dak Prescott in contract negotiations?
FRISCO, Texas – Dak Prescott knows he’ll likely have a new contract before the 2019 season opens.
The Cowboys have tendered Prescott an offer for a long-term extension. His team of agents has returned a counteroffer.
Still, the quarterback says, give him a few years before asking him for details.
“It’s one (proposal) from each side,” Prescott said Wednesday from his locker after the Cowboys’ second OTA practice. “It’s my first time doing this. Ask me in a few years and I’ll be able to tell you, ‘OK, we sent this one, they’ve sent that one, we’re about to get it done.’ Right now, I’m learning the process too and just letting my team handle their business.”
Prescott insists he’s focused on the locker room as agent Todd France leads his team of advisers to finalize a deal expected to range around $30 million a year. Russell Wilson reset the average annual quarterback salary this offseason when agreeing to a four-year, $140 million extension with the Seahawks.
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott, at practice Wednesday, conitnues to rise. (Photo: Michael Ainsworth, AP)
His $35 million average salary ranks highest in the league, followed by the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger at $34 million and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers at $33.5. Each has won a Super Bowl.
Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said after Wilson’s extension that “he’s wearing a Super Bowl ring” so he deserved the money. Prescott has won two NFC East titles in three seasons, but the Cowboys haven’t advanced to a conference championship since the 1995 season.
Super Bowl rings are far from the only factor in negotiations, though.
“When you look at the numbers, a lot of it’s about the market,” Prescott said. “So I don’t really pay attention to any of that. It’ll get done eventually.”
In the meantime, he’ll focus on working toward Year 4.
Prescott owns a 32-16 regular-season record, completing 66.1 percent of his passes for 10,876 yards since rising from fourth string to starter as a fourth-round rookie in 2016. He has thrown 67 touchdowns to 25 interceptions, rushing for another 18 scores.
In 2018, Prescott completed 67.7 percent of his passes for 3,885 yards, 22 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Those numbers improved drastically after the Cowboys traded for Amari Cooper in the bye week. With a “true” No. 1 receiver back in the offense, Prescott raised his completion percentage from 62 to 72 percent and accounted for 18 total touchdowns to four interceptions.
Entering 2019, Prescott expects even more improvement. He said he feels “crazy comfortable” reading the field, an understanding of scheme that Prescott traces to late in the 2018 season when the Cowboys won seven of their last eight games.
“It started coming way more clear,” Prescott said. “Seeing and knowing – not seeing and thinking but seeing and knowing. You look at it and, ‘OK, I need to go here, there, exactly.’”
A quicker release is among goals for Prescott in 2019. He took 56 sacks in 2018 after combining for 55 his first two seasons. Some resulted from receivers struggling to separate from coverage and offensive-line play declining with All-Pro center Travis Frederick sidelined by an autoimmune illness. But some sacks came when Prescott took too long to get a play off.
New quarterbacks coach Jon Kitna, who played 14 seasons in the league including two as Cowboys quarterback, will work to alleviate those sacks. He’s emphasized footwork with Prescott this offseason, as well as the importance of becoming a “pocket engineer.” Kitna is showing Prescott that sometimes an inch or two readjustment in the pocket will change his strength, release and accuracy.
“A lot of times pressure that a quarterback is under can be self-inflicted because you’re not where you’re supposed to be in the pocket,” Kitna said Wednesday. “The good quarterbacks over time, the ones that last, they know how to create their own space like a jump shooter gets their own shot off in basketball. Same thing in football: How do I create space so I can be on time and get this throw where I want it to be?”
Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott listens to offensive coordinator Kellen Moore during practice Wednesday. (Photo: Michael Ainsworth, AP)
Prescott has paired guidance from coordinator Kellen Moore, in 2016 Prescott’s backup, and Kitna alongside throwing sessions this offseason with quarterback and pitching guru Tom House. Cowboys coaches teach him the how, while House teaches Prescott the scientific why of his mechanics. After one March session in California and another pending in June, Prescott will take his receivers to House before training camp. Prescott’s weapons include recent and past Pro Bowl players in Cooper, Randall Cobb, tight end Jason Witten and running back Ezekiel Elliott.
Prescott and Elliott will continue to implement run-pass options, which Prescott has thrived with the last three years. And the Cowboys will stick to their run-first principles. But Moore’s offense will likely include more pre-snap activity and versatility, aiming to run five or six plays from the same setup to keep defenses on their toes.
Prescott’s preparing for those changes drilling dropping back from center, seven-step drops and pocket fundamentals.
Kitna says he already sees improvement through five months with the Cowboys. He compared Prescott’s spiral to Hall of Famer Warren Moon’s.
“I don’t know what to say. I just take it,” Prescott said. “He played forever, Hall of Famer, he can throw it. I don’t know what to say. Appreciate it, keep getting better.
“Warren could throw.”
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