When the Cowboys start their virtual offseason training program as soon as Monday, starting quarterback Dak Prescott won’t be involved. He won’t be involved because he’s not under contract. He’s not under contract because the Cowboys have continued to drag their feet, delaying the inevitable and ultimately increasing the price they will have to pay to get him signed.
That’s the strangest aspect of this lingering impasse. As the Cowboys wait for Dak to take less, the passage of time will make him want more.
Surely, he wants more now than he would have taken a year ago. And he’ll want more a year from now, if/when his franchise tag increases by 20 percent.
The number is never going to go down. Thus, the longer the Cowboys wait, the more the number will go up. Eventually, it may become a year-to-year proposition that has Dak hitting the open market in 2022, in lieu of the Cowboys giving him a 44-percent bump for a third tag, over the 20-percent increase he’d get under a second tag.
Maybe the Cowboys should have simply let him hit the market now. Would anyone have offered the $35 million per year he reportedly wants from Dallas? And wouldn’t he need more than that from another team, given the marketing value of being the starting quarterback of America’s Team?
Regardless, the Cowboys keep painting themselves more tightly into a corner. And even though COO Stephen Jones has shrugged at the prospect of Dak skipping the offseason program, it’s hardly ideal for new coach Mike McCarthy to not have Prescott involved in efforts to plan for the coming season.
The ongoing delay isn’t ideal, either. Unless and until the Cowboys are willing to let the market determine Dak’s value, they’re going to have to pay him, eventually. And it will never be any cheaper to get it done than it would be right now.