Two days into the virtual offseason program, Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy would not get into whether Dak Prescott was a participant in the voluntary work as the quarterback and team continue to work out a long-term contract.
"I understand why you're asking the question," McCarthy said during a conference call Tuesday, "but we don't do roll call publicly. But Dak, he's been a part of it as far as the communication with the coaches."
The Cowboys placed the exclusive franchise tag on Prescott in March, which will cost $31.4 million, according to a source. The sides have had negotiations since then on a long-term deal but have not bridged the gap to bring them closer to an agreement.
Sources have said Prescott will not take part in the offseason program, virtual or otherwise, without a long-term deal. Since he is not under contract, he would not be required to attend the mandatory minicamp in June, should the offseason return to form from the interruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Owner and general manager Jerry Jones said he did not know when or if Prescott would sign the tender.
"It's not in a list of priorities, as you could imagine, with everything that we all are dealing with, as well as what we're doing with the draft," Jones said. "So I don't have a time frame, but I'm not concerned about that at all as to any of those issues. And again, no surprises here; no surprises on the amount that the franchise counts against the [cap]; no surprise that we're sitting here, relative to where we are, without a long-term agreement."
The Cowboys have studied quarterbacks leading into this week's draft, like Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts, but that has nothing to do with the team's feelings toward Prescott, who has a 40-24 record in four seasons as a starter and had career highs in passing yards (4,902) and touchdown passes (30) in 2019. Cooper Rush, who is entering the final year of his contract, and Clayton Thorson are the only other quarterbacks under contract.
"At the end of the day I don't think us drafting a quarterback has anything to do with Dak," executive vice president Stephen Jones said. "He's our starting quarterback. Obviously he's franchised and our bigger goal is to get him signed long term, and we think we can do that."
The Cowboys have made an offer to Prescott that would put him among the highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL. Seattle's Russell Wilson is the highest paid at $35 million per season, followed by Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger at $34 million.
If the Cowboys' focus at the moment is not on Prescott's contract, it is on the draft.
"I like the spot we're in at 17 [in the first round]," Jerry Jones said.
The Cowboys have needs on both sides of the ball but defense has been an emphasis, especially pass-rusher and cornerback after losing Robert Quinn and Byron Jones in free agency. However, the Cowboys believe they have backstopped those positions in free agency.
"We just don't feel the pressure to have to take a certain position early," Stephen Jones said.
Jerry Jones seemed to squelch the idea of a big-time trade for a superstar player, like New York Jets safety Jamal Adams. The Cowboys had interest in Adams last season before the trade deadline but felt the Jets wanted too much in return.
"At this time of the year, draft pick values are heightened because all the teams in the league want to use that pick on a player for now and the future that is salary-cap friendly," Jerry Jones said. "So the idea of trading a very valuable No. 1 for an existing player that will more than likely cost you a lot more is unlikely."