FRISCO, Texas -- Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones prepares as if he can see the future.
As the person in charge of the salary cap, Jones must take a multiyear view of the Cowboys' roster, the money tied to players and the type of money that should be set aside for the future.
Enter Dak Prescott.
Starting next offseason, per league rules, the Cowboys can look to sign Prescott to a long-term contract if they want. Jones is already thinking about the zeroes that will be attached to Prescott's contract, especially with the recent deal the Atlanta Falcons gave Matt Ryan, totaling $150 million over five years and guaranteeing the quarterback $100 million.
Sometime soon, Aaron Rodgers could get a deal that eclipses Ryan's.
As if people didn't know this before, it's good to be a quarterback.
"At that position, it kind of is what it is," Jones said Wednesday from the Cowboys' sponsors golf tournament at Cowboys Golf Club in Grapevine, Texas. "When the time comes, I know Dak's going to have a great year this year, and I hope it's up there. It's going to be as he deserves. He was a fourth-round pick. No one deserves to get paid fairly more than he does. And y'all see what some of the other guys are who aren't Aaron Rodgers, who aren't Matt Ryan [get paid], so he's going to do well.
"We certainly know that's going to happen, and we've got that planned in our budgeting for the salary cap, and I just want Dak to go out and be MVP this year of the NFL. That's what I want. Then we'll deal with that [contract]."
The Cowboys are getting all of the benefits of Prescott being on his rookie contract as a fourth-round pick in 2016. He is set to make $630,000 this season and $720,000 in 2019. His cap figure in 2018 is $725,848, which is 62nd among quarterbacks, according to ESPN Stats & Information. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is atop the list at $37 million.
The Cowboys have not been shy in dealing with their top quarterbacks in the recent past.
Before he even threw a pass in a regular-season game, the Cowboys signed Tony Romo to what was then considered a big contract at two years and $3.9 million. It included a $2 million signing bonus.
Romo became the Cowboys' starter midway through the 2006 season, and by the middle of the 2007 season, he was given a six-year, $67.5 million deal that included $28.5 million guaranteed after only 17 regular-season starts. In 2013, Romo signed a six-year deal worth $108 million with $55 million guaranteed.
Prescott has started every game the past two seasons and has posted a 22-10 record, helping the Cowboys to the playoffs in 2016 with an NFC-best 13-3 record. The Cowboys finished 9-7 in 2017 and missed the playoffs with Prescott throwing 22 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions.
The Cowboys have essentially lucked into their past two starting quarterbacks. Romo was an undrafted free agent. Prescott was the 135th overall pick. Before that, the Cowboys had the good fortune of taking Troy Aikman with the No. 1 overall pick in 1989.
In between Aikman and Romo/Prescott, the Cowboys attempted to get by with veterans (Vinny Testaverde, Drew Bledsoe), a questionable second-round pick (Quincy Carter) and baseball players (Chad Hutchinson, Drew Henson), among others.
That they have found what they believe is their next franchise quarterback without having to give up a ton of draft capital or players and that they haven't had to be one of the worst teams in the league to get him speaks to the Cowboys' good fortune.
There are plenty of reasons why the Cowboys need to win now. At the top of the list is the fact that they have not been to at least a conference title game since winning Super Bowl XXX. In the middle of the list is how a team can work its salary cap without having to worry about a high-priced quarterback.
If Prescott does what Jones hopes and becomes the MVP in 2018, Prescott is going to get paid.
But it is much better to worry about that type of problem than not having a quarterback at all.