The Dak Prescott Saga

By Richard O’Brien

The key story within the NFL this offseason, COVID-19 aside, has been the contract dispute between the Dallas Cowboys and their star Quarterback, Dak Prescott. The deal, or lack of, has received plenty of attention and speculation, with many members of the media portraying the negotiations as a clash of titans pitting Jerry Jones against the former fourth round pick. With that being said, we’ll look at the ongoing saga and the stage that has been set for the 15 July deadline for long term deals.


First of all, let’s look at the rumour. Reported by Chris Simms, the supposed rejected deal was a 5 year, $175 million contract which would have made Prescott the second highest annual earner slightly behind Russell Wilson. If this report is to be believed, Dak would receive $35 million per year. Simms also claimed the quarterback out of Mississippi State would be roughly on par as the highest earner in guaranteed money in line with the $110 million which Jared Goff received.

Following this claim by Simms, Prescott was met with harsh criticism for declining the proposed deal on grounds he wanted “north of $45 million in his final year”, but on further reflection, the saga may not be as clear cut as this.

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The key issue raised with the report of Chris Simms is the source. Prescott and his team were, up until this point, declining the opportunity to discuss with the media. Since this leak was made by Simms, the implication made by Prescott’s agent is that someone, on behalf of ownership or not, leaked a deal to exert public pressure onto Dak during negotiations.

To support this claim, Ian Rapport, an NFL insider, tweeted that both the team and Dak’s agent argue these claims are false and that the key issue is the length of the deal. Prescott wants a 4 year deal, whereas the Cowboys want to settle on a 5 year deal.

Another issue raised with the deal is guaranteed money. If the major contract deals of the past few years are anything to go by, guaranteed money is the key component of any player contract within the NFL. Whilst total figures of contracts appear extortionate, in reality the players usually receive a fraction of this amount depending on performances and injuries.

The annual figure of around $32.5 million to $35 million has been widely agreed as an accurate representation of what the former MSU Bulldog has been promised, and is owed. But the guaranteed money is more hazy. Although Simms claimed Prescott had been offered a similar amount to Goff, at around $110 million, this figure has been refuted since the report of Simms.

Many NFL experts believe the real figure to be much lower than this, leading to the franchise quarterback to reject the deal. Given that Prescott has only earned $4 million from his rookie contract given that he was a fourth round pick, it is only fair that he is now searching for a more attractive payout now.


To summarise what we know so far, a leak from within the Cowboys organisation inflated figures to exert pressure on Prescott to take a deal less financially lucrative. But, in reality, money isn’t necessarily the sticking point in the deal, but more accurately what percentage is guaranteed and the length of the contract.

Cowboys' Dak Prescott breaks silence on death of George Floyd ...
Tim Heitman

With that being said, it’s time to look at the stage which has been set. As the 15 July deadline inches closer, will a deal be done? There are plenty of those who doubt an agreement with be made with the two time pro bowler.

It has been argued that if the Cowboys genuinely believed Prescott to be their franchise quarterback he would have been payed last year and that Andy Dalton would not have been signed. Other notable draftees from the 2016 NFL Draft, Jarred Goff and Carson Wentz, were payed last offseason. And in addition to this, Dalton is a starting quality quarterback who could fill in for a disgruntled Prescott.

Whilst these arguments do have some validity to them, I do have my reservations about this case. Firstly, the Cowboys were in another contract saga this time last year with the Pro Bowl running back Ezekiel Elliot who was threatening to sit out the season. Moreover, with regards to Andy Dalton, the move is a logical, precautionary move.

Bengals sound like they'll do right by Andy Dalton on his way out
Sam Greene

Whilst a side effect of the deal may be pressure put onto the former Rookie of the Year, I don’t believe this to be the sole focus of the deal. Firstly, to be able to sign a starting caliber quarterback to a 1 year $4million deal is an excellent business move. Prescott is yet to miss a game for the Cowboys. Take into account the Steelers’ season in 2019, Jones will be keen to avoid the scenario in which a talented team capable to making the playoffs is derailed by an injury. Prescott will miss a game at some point through injury, it is inevitable. But Jones has planned for this eventuality by signing Dalton.

In all likelihood, and if history is anything to go by, a deal will be made before the 15 July deadline.

Jerry Jones loves a star, and Prescott certainly is one. He has not only become the face of America’s team, but also of the NFL as a whole. As well as this, history shows Jones is willing to arguably overcompensate his star quarterback, as seen with Tony Romo.

Tony Romo "Done" Playing Football
Jerome Miron

Heading into the 2013 season, and with one playoff win under his belt, Jones signed Romo to a 6 year $110 million contract making him a top 3 earner in the league. Likewise, Dak is looking for a market setting deal despite having only 1 playoff win in his professional career as well. And finally, with the organisation in contention for their first Superbowl since 1996, the argument is that Jones would not risk this prospect before the season has even begun due to a dispute with the face of the franchise.


Ultimately, the saga between Prescott and the Cowboys which has lasted nearly a year by now will end one way or another come 15 July. Although I expect Jones to give way on either the percentage of guaranteed money or length, one thing is clear, the NFL is watching. With little else going on and the fact that Prescott will receive either record sums or the opportunity to join a team of his choosing, this is surely set to be a saga which shapes the NFL.

Byron Jones: In or Out?

This encroaching off-season will be a very stressful one for the Dallas Cowboys. They have some big names looking for some big contracts and they’ll need them if they want a Super Bowl LV run. One of these names is cornerback, Byron Jones. But does the Cowboys No. 31 deserve to sit at the table with Jerry first? Alex Lewis (@alexlewis226) takes a look..


Why Byron Jones deserves his big money in (31)0 words.


Byron Jones from the second that he was seen at the combine, has consistently demonstrated his unique and impressive athletic ability. Able to set a world record standing long-jump of 12”3’ and recording a 4.36 in his 40-yard dash, Jones has never been needing for athletic confidence. When pairing this demonstration of prowess in the gym to the various measurable’s that Byron Jones is considered “perfect” for, like height and hand size, it’s not particularly shocking that he was drafted in the first round.

Image result for byron jones combine
Julio Cortez/AP

2019 for Jones, considering it being just his second season as a cornerback, was a highly impressive campaign for the UCONN alum. Despite missing the first game of his entire career in Week 17, Pro Football Focus ranked him the number one defensive free-agent prospect back in December. Jones faced just 64 targets on the year, which can be easily attributed to his impressive coverage ability, and allowed just 395 passing yards, a similar yards-per-target to DPOY winner Stephon Gilmore.  

During his time with the Cowboys as a cornerback, No. 31 has been asked to play a lot of press-bail coverage in cover 1 or cover 3. Not only has this made it hard to rack up the turnover numbers expected but playing cover 1 can lead to cornerback’s being on islands. Given this challenging scheme fit and the top receivers he has faced in his contract year like, Michael Thomas, Stefon Diggs and Kenny Golladay, Byron Jones can definitely consider 2019 a job well done.

The defensive situation outside of Texas could easily end up helping Byron Jones’ prospects of a long-term deal with the Cowboys. This years draft and free-agency period are both far deeper in top-quality safeties than high level cornerbacks and this should increase the urgency on the Cowboys side to get Jones signed up and bought in, rather than wait.


Why the Cowboys should move on from Jones in (31)0 words.


Byron Jones’ chance to stay on this Dallas Cowboy’s roster for the long-term has been severely hurt by his inability to come up with turnovers, recording just two interceptions in 79 games. This is many ways has become a microcosm for the ‘Boys defence who rank 26th in total turnover’s on the season and failed in big situations to come up with the ball. It is true to say that grading Jones shouldn’t come down to purely his takeaway potential, and that is correct, but it is definitely part of the bigger picture.

AP Photo/Bill Kostroun

Jones has also struggled because of the changes that the Cowboys have seen on the defence since he entered the fold in 2015. Deciding whether he would be better suited to corner or safety took the team until 2018 to decide on, with Jones playing at free safety until then. This switching between where he played has meant that Jones only has two proper years of statistics to analyse when making the decision on his contract, and it doesn’t help that during those years Jones has gone from DC to DC, with Rod Marinelli, Chris Richard and now Mike Nolan. This lack of secure and consistent coaching may cause the current regime to doubt the numbers that the cheque book would require to hold onto Jones for a long time.

Although not his fault, Jones has also faced a continuously rotating and revolving backfield of team-mates to play alongside, which hasn’t lent itself to consistent play that the position requires. Barry Church, Brandon Carr, Morris Claibourne and Orlando Scandrick to name just a few. The great defences of NFL history often have uniformity at the core as they develop over seasons, and while I’m in no way suggesting the ‘Boys are that, Byron Jones case for a contract has not been helped by a lack of stability.  


To sign or not to sign; that is the question!


The obvious answer on how to deal with Byron Jones is to franchise tag him, and by pure chance with the turn of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Cowboys will have use of both the Franchise tag and the Transition tag for this season. This should help to alleviate some of the pressure on the Jones family with both Amari Cooper and Dak Prescott looking for new deals. Byron Jones has obvious raw talent, with refinement coming since he was committed to the position and this is only going to get better. With a new system and co-ordinator on the horizon again, I would implore Jerry to get the long-term deal done and trust in the process.

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Season in Review – Dallas Cowboys

By Tim Monk (@Tim_MonkF10Y)

In the 2nd installment of our new article series, today’s team for the season review is America’s Team. The Dallas Cowboys, constantly in the news as they always are (usually for scrutinising more than any plaudits) and this season was no different. Let’s break it down and see where it all went wrong.


Entering the season:


The Cowboys opted against handing Jason Garrett an extension prior to the start of the season to see if that brought upon an improvement to the divisional round loss to the Rams from the season prior. Dak Prescott’s contract was not extended despite ongoing talks, with the QB betting on himself to play his way into a huge deal come the end of the season.

With Washington and New York seemingly in disarray, the only competition was the Eagles. Kellen Moore was employed as the team’s offensive co-ordinator for his first year, hoping to install creativity and different looks for a team that had talent all over the offence. On the other side of the ball, a lot was expected on defence with Robert Quinn coming over from Miami to help aid the pass rush of DeMarcus Lawrence and the young, talented linebackers of Jaylon Smith and Leighton Van Der Esch were expected to take a step forward.


During the season:


The Cowboys slumped to a 8-8 season, Jason Garrett’s 5th such time he has had that record (even Jeff Fisher is jealous!) with no playoff football this time around, leading to his unceremonious exit saga. The team were 1st in total offence in terms of yardage including an almost 5000 yard passing season for Dak Prescott, only behind Jameis Winston. It’s fair to say that they were a team with the talent of a 12 win team, but a head coach of a 5 win team as Jason Garrett’s reluctance on 4th downs reared it’s ugly head again, only being aggressive when his job security was as fragile as a china doll.

Image result for dallas cowboys vs miami
Image Credit: Richard Rodriguez/Getty

They started the season hot out the gate with blowouts against New York Giants, Washington and Miami but got found out as soon as they played anyone with a winning record. Very disappointing losses against the Jets, the Bills and the Bears along with some low scoring performances against the Saints, Patriots and most devastatingly in week 16 vs the Eagles with the division on the line, essentially costing them division meant that there were more dips than highs on the season. Yes, this despite being the 6th highest point scorers, having the most yardage and 3rd most 1st downs on the season.

Despite being in control of their own destiny for the majority of the season and chances given to them by the rest of the teams in the division, the team flattered to deceive and did not deserve that playoff spot, even if the same could be said for the division winning Eagles.

Image result for dallas vs philadelphia week 16
Image Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Player wise, Michael Gallup has to go down as one of the best players performing on the season. The 2nd year wide receiver went for 1107 yards in the air with 6 TDs and that was with missing a few games with injury. On the other side Amari Cooper had season highs in yards (1189) and TDs (8) and put a case forward for a huge contract next season. Special mention to Travis Frederick who was able to come back from the horrible auto immune disease and pick up where he left off, whilst Zack Martin got yet another nod to the All-pro team.

On defence, DeMarcus Lawrence only managed to muster 5 sacks on the season, but his presence giving help to free agent signing Robert Quinn to conjure up 11.5 sacks.

Brett Maher was released during the season due to his shocking performance in the kicking game.


Offseason outlook:

Jason Garrett has been fired from the Cowboys and ex Packers HC Mike McCarthy is in after signing a new 5 year deal. Among the coaching staff reshuffle, Rod Marinelli and Jon Kitna a few of the names to also head for the exit door. McCarthy brings in Mike Nolan at defensive co-ordinator and Kellen Moore is to return to continue his decent start as an OC (partly the reason for the lengthy divorce of Jason Garrett). The Cowboys future success will depend on whether McCarthy has freshened his ethos and looked at why his offence became stale in Green Bay. Early signs are positive, however.

I would be very surprised if they don’t address the safety position in the draft with a day 1 or early day 2 pick. Long time Cowboy Jeff Heath is an unrestricted free agent so expect him to test the waters but it’s not a position the Cowboys have historically treated with any contempt. Maybe the new coaching setup will change that.

Other areas of priority are Nose tackle, and possibly a LB or CB depending on what they do with Byron Jones.

There will be some contracts to sort out, none more so than Dak Prescott, expect the Cowboys to announce a monster deal with him. The Cowboys must also decide on whether or not Amari Cooper is worth and extension and Byron Jones too. They will have upwards of $100m in salary cap space once players are cut, and have up to 29 potential free agents on the team. The Cowboys also have a franchise tag along with the transition tag available for 2 of those big names.


Summary:

After a thoroughly disappointing season which led to the exit of Jason Garrett, there are better times ahead for Cowboys fans;

New coach, new ideas and a roster full of talent and plenty of salary cap space. You can expect Dak to not be exercised on those tags and instead be signed to a huge deal over possibly a record breaking number of years (watch out Jon Gruden!). You should fully expect Cooper and Jones to get the combination of the franchise and transition tags.

It would be deemed a failure if McCarthy does not bring playoff football to Dallas next season. The team is young, talented and heading in a new direction, but is that direction heading towards another Lombardi trophy?

Image result for jason witten
Image Credit: Ron Chenoy

Fun fact: Jason Witten had his highest career catch rate (75.9%), at the age of 37. He is now just 23 yards away from totaling 13,000 receiving yards and is 19th all time in terms of receiving yardage for all players (2nd for TE). and remains 4th in the list of all time receptions with 1215. will he be back?

Podcast 30 – NFC East Breakdown

We got Kacey Kasem of Fighting Chance Fantasy out of bed late on Sunday morning to join us as our special guest on today’s podcast and we breakdown the NFC East.

Both being members of the #CowboysNation, we get Kacey to explain her love for Cole Beasley this year in Fantasy Football and we both try to pick ourselves on the fact that the Eagles are the defending Super Bowl champions!

Kacey can be found on social media @thekaceykasem and is very much a recommendation to follow!