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NFL

By Not Paying Dak, The Cowboys Are Gambling With Their Future

Dak always seems to be overlooked, but it's time to give him his money.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Throughout his career, Dallas Cowboys’ QB Dak Prescott seemed to be an overlooked underdog on the gridiron.

At Mississippi State, Dak produced stat lines that many college quarterbacks would love to have. Unfortunately for him, he played for the Bulldogs and in the always tough SEC, which means that unless they won the SEC and a national championship, he wouldn’t be getting the recognition of other DI quarterbacks.

But Dak didn’t let that prevent him from showing that he could play with the big boys and hold his own.

When he took over as a starter for the Bulldogs in 2013, he wasted no time in showcasing his talent. In 11 games, he threw for 1,940 yards with 10 TDs and 7 INTs. He also rushed for 829 yards and 13 TDs and led his team to a 7-6 record and a Liberty Bowl win where he won game MVP as well. That season he ranked in the top 10 in the nation in many categories, including total yards (4th) and total TDs (4th). He was also named to the 2013 SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll.

His success grew in his junior and senior years, where he started in every game for the Bulldogs in 2014 and 2015. In 2014 he threw for 3,449 yards with 27 TDs and 11 INTs, and rushed for 986 yards and 14 TDs. In 2015 he threw for 3,793 yards with 29 TDs and 5 INTs while rushing for 588 yards and 10 TDs. In 2014 he finished eighth in the Heisman voting, and despite having a better year statistically in 2015, he finished outside of the top 10 in the Heisman race.

The Cowboys obviously saw the potential of Dak as they drafted him with the 135th pick in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He was viewed as a backup quarterback, as the team had Tony Romo under center and a few other quarterbacks in camp, so the chances of Prescott getting the call to start were slim. But the call came quicker than expected as Romo hurt his shoulder in week three of the preseason and Dak was given the ball to start the season.

In the team’s first game against the Giants, Dak threw for 227 yards, but the Cowboys lost, 20-19. As the season progressed, Dak did what he had done during his career- improve. He got better each week, eventually leading the team to a 13-3 record, and a NFC East title, as a rookie. In his lone postseason game that season, Prescott threw for 302 yards and 3 TDs and 1 INT in a loss to the Packers.

It was a rookie season to remember for the fourth-round pick. He was named to the Pro Bowl and he won the NFL Rookie of the Year that season, beating out his star teammate, Ezekiel Elliott.

In his first three seasons, Dak has done more than most of the quarterbacks selected ahead of him, including 2014 Heisman trophy winner, Marcus Mariotta, and the Bucs’ Jameis Winston. He’s thrown for 10,876 yards with 67 TDs and 25 INTs, also adding in 944 yards rushing and 18 TDs and two Pro Bowl appearances. He’s also played in every game during that span, proving his durability complements his talent.

Doubt No More

This past off-season, Dak and the Cowboys were involved in contract discussions that went nowhere. He also seemed to take a backseat to teammate, Ezekiel Elliott, who got more of the shine and, arguably, much more of the support in terms of who deserved more money and who the team needed more to win a Super Bowl. And even though he got clowned by team owner Jerry Jones with a “Zeke who?” comment, Zeke still got a massive deal and everyone was happy.

But for Dak, things still remained up in the air. While Jerry Jones had made it seem that they would be able to reach a deal with their quarterback before week 1, that obviously didn’t happen. Now, according to Ian Rapoport, it seems that their contract discussions have stalled and a new deal isn’t in sight.

“My understanding is these Dak Prescott extension talks which Jerry Jones termed imminent just a week ago have reached a little bit of an impasse,” said Rapoport. “It doesn’t seem like things will happen for the foreseeable future. Obviously that could change but that is the read right now.

“The Cowboys have signed a lot of their key players to really long-term deals. Zeke Elliott the latest all their offensive lineman are on long long-term deals. But then look at the recent deals quarterbacks have done. Four-year extension for [Rams QB] Jared Goff. Four-year extension for [Eagles QB] Carson Wentz. It would make a lot of sense if Dak is holding out for some of those shorter-term deals to cash in at a sooner time.”

Prescott is in the final year of a four-year deal, and he’s only making $2 million this season, a robbery for a quarterback of his caliber.

Yet Dak didn’t hold out or miss time while the discussions continued.

Instead, he bet on himself and has played his heart out this season to the tune of 674 yards passing, 7 TDs and 1 INT in the Cowboys’ two games this season. His completion rate is currently 82.3% and his QB rating is 142.9. Yesterday, he threw for 269 yards and 3 TDs against Washington, showcasing the talent which is more than worthy of a big-money deal.

Yet despite all of the big games, big stats, consistency and loyalty, Dak is, unfortunately, oftentimes overlooked in the discussions around top quarterbacks in the league. While everyone is drooling over the amazing performances of Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson, and rightfully so, Dak appears to be in a lower QB discussion tier, and that has always seemed to be the case both in college and in his four years in the NFL.

But the Cowboys, and the rest of the league, are seeing what Dak can do, and it’s time to reward him with both the money and respect that he so rightfully deserves.

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