FRISCO, Texas -- With the Dallas Cowboys coming off a disappointing 6-10 season and having won just four of 11 games without him, owner and general manager Jerry Jones acknowledged Dak Prescott is in a good position regarding contract talks.
"I don't know how you could have any more leverage," Jones said on 105.3 The Fan. "... His evolving into an NFL quarterback has been nothing short of a perfect picture. He has great ability, in my mind, to win games. He's talented. He certainly has the experiences and he has all the things, which has been substantiated by what we've offered Dak. You wouldn't offer Dak what we offered in the past if you'd not thought he was very special. The issue is, how do you come together? And that's no stranger to me. I've been doing it all my life, putting things together. We've got to get it together.
The Cowboys and Prescott's agent, Todd France, can resume negotiations on a long-term deal now that the team's season is over. Once the sides did not reach an agreement on a contract last June 15, Prescott had to play the 2020 season on the $31.4 million franchise tag, and they could not reach a deal until after the season ended.
The Cowboys offered Prescott a deal that sources said averaged $34.5 million a year, included a $50 million signing bonus and had $110 million in guarantees. The biggest issue was the length of the term. The Cowboys wanted five years; France countered with four because impending television contracts are expected to significantly raise the salary cap in the future.
The Cowboys will have to deal with a decreased salary cap in 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The floor of the cap will be $175 million per team, but the Cowboys will carry over a little more than $25 million in unused space from 2020.
If the Cowboys use the franchise tag on Prescott again, it would cost them $37.7 million. Even with a long-term deal, Prescott's 2021 cap figure would likely be more than $30 million given the necessary structure of the contract.
"We have a certain amount, period, that can be paid to players every year. It's a very competitive thing, and the longer the term, the more flexibility you've got in any numbers that you have in a contract," Jones said to the team's flagship network. "The planning ahead, the looking at what you can spend, what you can give on any other free agents, that's your overall planning."
Prescott suffered a dislocation and compound fracture of his right ankle in the Cowboys' Week 5 win against the New York Giants. He was on pace for his best statistical season, with 1,856 yards passing, including nine touchdown passes and four interceptions, but the Cowboys were 2-3 in his five starts.
"He's here every day going through rehab. He's making progress, and just as you'd expect, he's going after it full speed," coach Mike McCarthy said Monday. "So as far as the timeline, I don't have the specifics on when he's going to be doing on-the-field work and dates and things like that. I don't have that for you. But I do know based on the plan for his surgery and what he's supposed to be doing and where he is, everything is right on course."
As for the contract talks affecting the coach's ability to work with Prescott in the offseason, McCarthy said, "I can't answer the contract question. From what I see and where I am, I am very confident we are going to get that worked out. My conversation with Dak is always very positive and always with the focus on what the future holds and what we are going to do on offense, the team and his leadership."