Dak Prescott

Cowboys Restructure Dak Prescott’s Deal

Entering Friday more than $16MM over the cap, the Cowboys have moved well under the 2023 salary ceiling. They restructured the contracts of Dak Prescott and Zack Martin, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.

These revisions cleared approximately $30MM in cap space for the Cowboys, who recently allocated $10.1MM to a Tony Pollard franchise tag. The conversion involved around $29MM of Prescott’s 2023 base salary shifting to a signing bonus, Todd Archer of ESPN.com tweets. This restructure will either bump up Prescott’s 2024 cap number or add more void years to his deal, but it will drop the quarterback’s 2023 cap figure from a historically high place. Prescott’s 2024 number now comes in at around $59MM, Archer tweets. That number will obviously be untenable for the team.

Prescott was set to carry a $49.13MM cap number this year. No player had previously played a season with a cap hit higher than $46MM, though Deshaun Watson is currently on track to do so. The Browns are considering restructuring their quarterback’s fully guaranteed deal, and Prescott’s restructure will only lead to more talk of another extension coming to pass.

Cowboys executive VP Stephen Jones said a second Prescott extension is likely to happen. The Cowboys have Dak signed on his $40MM-per-year contract for two more seasons. Prior to Friday’s restructure, the QB was set to carry a $52.1MM cap hit in 2024. With that number venturing deeper into uncharted waters via today’s transaction, Prescott extension talk figures to accelerate. The parties are not believed to have entered discussions about a new deal, but Prescott said recently he looks forward to an extension “when that time comes.”

This restructure will increase Prescott’s leverage, as Dallas will be eager to reduce his 2024 cap number. Daniel Jones‘ $40MM-per-year deal and the potential re-ups for Jalen Hurts, Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert — and whatever happens with Lamar Jackson this year — also will work in Prescott’s favor. When Prescott and the Cowboys negotiated up until the 2020 franchise tag extension deadline, a deal in the $35MM-AAV range was rumored. It ended up being pushed to $40MM ahead of the 2021 March tag deadline. Once Hurts, Burrow and Herbert sign, the next round of Prescott talks could center around a number beginning with a 5.

I don’t want to dare do this to Dak or me or anybody,” Jerry Jones said, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill. “But I think just as [Tom] Brady became better and better and more impactful on how they won as he got into his career, I think that really [Dak] has those qualities. I think he can get better.

Martin’s $14MM-per-year contract runs through 2024. The team is also in talks with Tyron Smith about a potential reworking, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. The team is trying to reduce Smith’s $17.6MM cap number. Attached to the NFL’s longest-running contract, Dallas’ left tackle is finally near the end of that eight-year pact. It expires after the 2023 season. Two void years are already on Smith’s contract, limiting the Cowboys’ options with their 12-year tackle. The team is trying to keep Smith in the fold for a 13th season.

Cowboys Eyeing Another Dak Prescott Extension, Likely To Use Franchise Tag

Finalized at the March 2021 deadline for teams to apply franchise tags to players, Dak Prescott‘s four-year, $160MM deal remains one of the league’s most player-friendly agreements. The Cowboys have twice restructured it, and the contract calls for a whopping cap number this year.

Prescott is tied to a $49.13MM figure. No player has ever played on a cap number north of $46MM, though Deshaun Watson ($54.9MM) is on track to venture into unexplored territory after his outlier extension is set to spike on the Browns’ payroll. The Cowboys can create more cap space — up to $22MM — by restructuring Prescott’s pact for a third time, but executive VP Stephen Jones took it a step further.

We’ve got to have a plan to ultimately extend Dak,” Jones said, via ESPN.com’s Todd Archer. “… I’ve got all the faith in the world we can win this thing with Dak. We know what he’s about. His leadership skills are undeniable. Impeccable work ethic. Other than he hadn’t won some key playoff games, he’s everything you want in a quarterback.”

This will be Prescott’s eighth season at the controls for the Cowboys and his age-30 campaign. The team has gone to the increasingly popular void-years well with its quarterback, whose cap hit jumps to $52.1MM in 2024. It does not sound like the Cowboys plan on having him attached to his current contract by that point.

Prescott and the Cowboys negotiated this contract over three offseasons, beginning when he became extension-eligible in 2019 to the March 2021 accord. The complex process ended up benefitting Prescott, who saw the 2020 team crater without him. With this offseason potentially set to break down the $50MM barrier — via possible extensions for Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Lamar Jackson and Jalen Hurts — Prescott stands to be in good position when it comes time to discuss what will be his third Cowboys contract.

A 17-start season in 2023 would match Prescott with Roger Staubach for third in Cowboys history among QBs — behind Troy Aikman (165) and Tony Romo (127) — and although Dallas has continually encountered playoff roadblocks, it does not seem like any wavering is taking place. Mike McCarthy will now take over the Prescott-piloted offense.

Jones said the fourth-year Cowboys HC “made a compelling argument that making him the play-caller was going to help us.” Jones foresees a “noticeable change” in the Cowboys’ offense, which stood as DVOA’s No. 1-ranked unit during Prescott’s most recent full season (2021). Initially described as a mutual parting, the Cowboys-Kellen Moore split appears closer to a firing. Moore, who stayed on as the Cowboys’ play-caller during McCarthy’s first three seasons, is now with the Chargers. It will be interesting to see what changes McCarthy, who resided as the Packers’ play-caller for most of his 12-season Green Bay tenure, introduces.

Additionally, it looks like the Cowboys will unholster their franchise tag for a sixth straight offseason. After tagging DeMarcus Lawrence in 2018 and ’19, the Cowboys cuffed Prescott in 2020 and ’21 (the latter year a procedural move). They kept Dalton Schultz off the market last year. While Schultz can be re-tagged for barely $13MM, Tony Pollard is viewed as the team’s most likely tag recipient this year. Jones said (via Archer) the team will “probably use [the tag] again this year.” It would cost Dallas $10.1MM to tag Pollard, who joins Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs as running back tag candidates.

The Cowboys are $7MM-plus over the cap, as of Monday night, so they will need to get to work on cost-clearing moves and restructures soon to create space for a tag and reasonable free agency activity. Moving Prescott’s number down should take center stage in the coming days.

Latest On Odell Beckham Jr.

6:10pm: Adding further detail to Beckham’s visitation schedule, Anderson reports that the three-time Pro Bowler will meet with the Giants before heading to Dallas (Twitter link). In between, he is expected to meet with the Bills. Anderson adds that Beckham and his camp remain in conversation with the both the Chiefs and Ravens as he continues to draw significant interest from around the league.

3:30pm: The Cowboys and Giants are about to face off against each other on the field, but they are also in competition with respect to free agent Odell Beckham JrThe high-profile wideout is thought to be down to the NFC East rivals with respect to his decision on where to sign.

That decision is expected to come soon, but Beckham’s health is obviously a sticking point in negotiations. He tore his ACL during last season’s Super Bowl, leading to widespread expectation that a lengthy absence to begin 2022 would ensue. That could extend beyond the immediate future, however; FOX Sports’ Ralph Vacchiano reports that there is “considerable doubt” around the NFL that Beckham will be able to suit up at any point this season.

That could explain the slow-moving process by which the 30-year-old is weighing his options. CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson tweets that the Cowboys are expecting a visit from Beckham in early December, with a different team hosting him sometime before then. That represents at least a slight shift in the expected timeline for a decision to be made; Beckham had previously been reportedly seeking to find his next home by the end of this month.

Dallas has consistently been the most vocal team while pitching Beckham to choose them over a shortlist of other suitors (which includes the Giants but also, at least recently, the Bills, Chiefs and 49ers). Continuing along those lines, quarterback Dak Prescott has been personally involved in recruiting Beckham, as noted (on Twitter) by Clarence Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The latter has made it known on multiple occasions that mutual interest exists between he and the Cowboys.

Members of the Giants are also taking part in the bidding war for Beckham’s services, however. Injured wideout Sterling Shepard has been in conversation with him on an everyday basis, as detailed by Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News.

“I talk to him every day, but we don’t talk about [his decision] too much,” Shepard said. “Obviously he knows that we want him here. He would love to be here. But everything has to play out for that to happen… And I understand that.”

The Giants’ WR room was far from highly-touted to begin the year, and the latest major injury suffered this past week (rookie Wan’Dale Robinson‘s torn ACL) leaves the unit severely shorthanded. Beckham could fill a significant void by reuniting with the Giants, though the same remains true of the Cowboys in that regard. Both teams will have a slightly clearer picture of their postseason outlook after today’s game, and could have a prized acquisition not long after.

Cowboys’ Dak Prescott Cleared To Return

OCTOBER 19: As expected, Prescott has officially been cleared to play on Sunday (Twitter link via NFL Network’s Jane Slater). That will allow him a full week of practice as he ramps up to his return against Detroit.

OCTOBER 17: Cooper Rush‘s starter stint is expected to stop at five games. The Cowboys anticipate Dak Prescott will receive clearance Tuesday and return to practice Wednesday, per Mike McCarthy.

The seventh-year veteran has steadily been building toward a return, and although he teased possible Week 5 and Week 6 comebacks, Week 7 against the Lions appears the window for Prescott’s re-emergence. Dak has been out since suffering a thumb injury in Dallas’ opener.

Prescott faced a four- to six-week timetable, and the Detroit matchup stands to bring a return on the back end of that schedule. But a Prescott return will obviously put the Cowboys in a better position to field an upper-echelon offense. Despite Rush’s struggles in Philadelphia, the sixth-year backup still fared better than expected during his stay in Dallas’ starting lineup. He is now 5-1 as a starter. Even factoring in Sunday’s performance, Rush ranks seventh in QBR.

Grip became an issue during the homestretch of Prescott’s recovery, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes grip strength remains one of the final hurdles here. A setback on this front could lead to another Rush start, but Rapoport adds no issues cropped up after Prescott’s pregame throwing session in Philadelphia (video links).

Dallas’ Tony Romo successor began his starter run with 69 consecutive starts but has missed time in each of the past three seasons. Upon returning from his early-season calf injury last year, Prescott finished the campaign with a career-high 37 touchdown passes and led the Cowboys to the NFC East title. This year’s team is 4-2 but now way behind in the division race, thanks to the Eagles’ 6-0 start. But the Cowboys did not fall completely out of the race like they did in 2020, when Prescott suffered a severe ankle injury.

Prescott, 29, is a two-time Pro Bowler and the 2016 Offensive Rookie of the Year. While detractors have certainly emerged, Dak doubles as one of this era’s best draft picks due to the Cowboys landing a franchise passer in the fourth round. This is the second season of Prescott’s four-year, $160MM contract.

Cowboys Preparing To Start Cooper Rush In Week 6

Another week of Cooper Rush will be on tap for the Cowboys, who are preparing for one of their highest-profile matchups in recent years. Mike McCarthy said his backup will make another start Sunday night against the Eagles.

Out since suffering a thumb injury in Week 1, Dak Prescott is scheduled to throw for the first time since the injury Wednesday, Todd Archer of ESPN.com tweets. But the seventh-year Dallas starter’s timetable remains up in the air. Prescott had wanted to come back in Week 5, but he is on track to miss a fifth game as a result of this injury.

Jerry Jones said last week Prescott was still having trouble gripping a football. The Cowboys have understandably wanted their Pro Bowl starter to go through at least a week of throwing in practice before returning. With Prescott’s Wednesday session to be on the side, that stage of his return timetable has not yet begun. It opens the door for Rush to attempt to push his starter record to 6-0.

Rush’s unexpected run of success began in a Sunday Night Football cameo, when he quarterbacked the Cowboys to a road win over the Vikings last season. Rush, 28, began his Cowboys career in 2017, when he joined the team as a UDFA. He impressed Jason Garrett‘s coaching staff enough to become Prescott’s primary backup. The Central Michigan alum, however, did not make any starts during his first go-round with the team. Prescott began his career with 70 consecutive starts, taking over after a Tony Romo preseason injury in 2016, and Rush was with the Giants when Dallas’ starter went down with an ankle injury.

The Cowboys circled back to Rush in 2020, after the Giants waived him, and have seen that reinvestment pay off. Rush has completed 61% of his passes (7.1 yards per attempt) and has thrown four TD passes compared to zero INTs. Jones and McCarthy have stressed no quarterback competition exists here, but the Cowboys have seen Rush guide a 4-1 start — one that sets up one of the bigger Cowboys-Eagles matchups this century. Philadelphia enters Sunday’s game as the NFL’s last remaining unbeaten.

Dak Prescott Unlikely To Play In Week 6?

As Cooper Rush prepares to make a fourth consecutive start for the Cowboys, the recovery of Dak Prescott continues to receive plenty of attention. The Cowboys’ No. 1 quarterback is facing an uphill battle to play next week, as things currently stand. 

[RELATED: No QB Controversy Between Rush, Prescott]

Prescott would need to make “significant strides” to be available for Dallas’ Week 6 game against the Eagles, per Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. The 29-year-old has been out since the season opener with a thumb injury which required surgery but not an IR stint. A four-to-six week recovery timetable is considered the schedule by which Prescott will be able to return.

That made it surprising when it became known the two-time Pro Bowler was eyeing today’s game against the Rams as the one in which he could suit up. As his ability to grip a football becomes the central issue, the thumb’s level of swelling will go a long way in determining the level of involvement Prescott can have during practice this week.

Pelissero and Rapoport add that Prescott will meet with doctors again on Tuesday to evaluate his progress. If he is able to make it onto the field in time, he could enter a very tight situation with respect to the standings in the NFC East. The Eagles head into today’s action as the league’s only remaining unbeaten team, and the Giants’ come-from-behind win over the Packers in London moved them to 4-1 on the year.

Rush will look to help the Cowboys keep pace today against the defending Super Bowl champions. His perfect record as a starter has led to some calls for a QB change even when Prescott is healthy, though the team has insisted that will not take place. Especially is the former UDFA can register another win, Dallas would be well-positioned to remain cautious with the return of their highest-paid player, something which may not take place until deeper into October.

Latest On Dak Prescott, Cooper Rush

Jerry Jones stirred the pot recently when he said he’d welcome a quarterback controversy between Dak Prescott and Cooper Rush. However, the Cowboys owner and GM quickly walked back his comments, stating definitively that Rush won’t supplant Prescott as the starter going forward.

[RELATED: Dak Prescott Targeting Week 5 Return]

“No. No,” Jones replied when asked if there was a scenario where the team would opt for Rush over Prescott (per Clarence Hill Jr. of the Dallas Star-Telegram). “As I see it right today.”

Rush has guided the Cowboys to three consecutive victories, and he’ll likely earn another start this weekend as Dak continues to recover from his hand injury. Jones noted that Prescott still can’t grip a football despite having his stitches removed more than a week ago. Considering the team’s public stance that their starter would need a week of practice before returning to the field, Hill opines that Prescott won’t be ready for this weekend’s showdown against the Rams.

The Cowboys never placed the QB on the injured reserve, leading some to believe he’d be able to make a return to the lineup before Week 6. Prescott himself stated that he was eyeing a Week 5 return date. It sounds like that won’t be the case, but that doesn’t bother Jones or the organization. Instead, the team sounds content with Dak making his return on October 16 against the Eagles.

“Well, I know that it’s better, and I know that he’s going to go out there every day and make progress toward being able to grip the ball,” Jones said. “I don’t know that you could ask for better news technically, physically in how it’s responding, how it’s healing so to speak. And, so, all of those things are on go, and I don’t know that you could make any more progress. There’s some things here about healing that I often say only the man upstairs knows how that works. But he’ll have a big week and he’ll be hard on himself getting ready to go.”

Cowboys Notes: Dak, Rush, Washington

We heard earlier this week that Dak Prescott was eyeing a Week 5 return, but Week 6 may end up being a more realistic target. Clarence Hill Jr. of the Dallas Star-Telegram tweets that Prescott won’t start throwing until the end of this week. Assuming the QB wants more than a week to ramp up, the Cowboys’ October 16 game against the Eagles may be a more realistic return date.

Prescott has been soft tossing but has yet to progress to “real throwing.” The fact that he’s throwing at all has led some to wonder if the quarterback could even return in Week 4 against Washington. Hill completely rules out that notion, and he suggests Prescott won’t even be ready for the Week 5 contest against the Rams.

Dallas can operate with a bit more caution after backup Cooper Rush has helped guide the Cowboys to wins over the Bengals and Giants. The team can continue to operate with some flexibility after not placing Dak on injured reserve, a move that would have kept him off the field through Week 5.

More notes out of Dallas…

  • Speaking of Rush, Ryan Dunleavy of the New York Post explores the Giants’ reasoning for moving on from the QB. After spending the first three seasons of his career in Dallas, Rush was claimed off waivers by the Giants in 2020. He had a brief stint on their practice squad before getting released, and that led to his return to the Cowboys. While Rush had fans in New York (including former head coach Joe Judge and former OC Jason Garrett), he also had some detractors, leading to the organization replacing him with Clayton Thorson. “The decision-makers with the Giants felt like they weren’t overly impressed with how he played or what his potential was,” Garrett told Dunleavy. “To me, Coop is not someone who wows you physically. Sometimes you get caught up in that. Sometimes those decisions happen.”
  • Meanwhile, wideout James Washington is still a few weeks away from returning, per Hill on Twitter. The veteran receiver signed with Dallas this offseason but landed on injured reserve after suffering a foot injury. He’ll be eligible to return in Week 5, but it sounds like he’ll need a bit more time to recover. Washington spent the first four years of his career with the Steelers, including a 2021 campaign where he hauled in 24 receptions for 285 yards.
  • Former Cowboys second-round pick Gavin Escobar was among two rock climbers who were found dead in a remote area near Idyllwild, CA, per the AP. The 31-year-old spent the first four seasons of his career in Dallas, appearing in 62 games. He bounced around the NFL a bit before ending his playing career in the Alliance of American Football.

Dak Prescott Targeting Week 5 Return

Cooper Rush is now 3-0 as a starter, adding back-to-back 2022 victories to a ledger that included an upset win in Minnesota last season. While Jerry Jones has talked up his backup since Dak Prescott‘s injury, Mike McCarthy slammed the door on the veteran QB2 keeping the gig once Prescott returns. That window is approaching.

Since Prescott is not on IR, he could come back Sunday against the Commanders. Although Prescott told ESPN’s Lisa Salters on Monday he was not ruling that out, the seventh-year veteran said he “probably” will not be ready in time. But Dak added he is targeting the Cowboys’ Week 5 Rams matchup for his return, via Lorenzo Reyes of USA Today.

Prescott had the stitch removed from his surgically repaired thumb Monday, Reyes adds, with ESPN.com’s Todd Archer (via Twitter) noting the Pro Bowl passer is improving his grip strength as he ramps up toward retaking the reins for the Cowboys. Jones called Prescott’s progress “nothing short of amazing” during an appearance on 105.3 The Fan (via The Athletic). The longtime owner said his starter is a week or two away from returning.

Equipped with a much better defense than the one that surrendered a franchise-record point total in 2020, the Cowboys are in superior shape than they were when Prescott last missed a chunk of a season. Michael Gallup will likely be back when Prescott returns, after the fifth-year wideout practiced ahead of the Giants game but was held out for precautionary reasons.

Rush, albeit in a very small sample size, ranks sixth in QBR after helping the Cowboys to wins over the Bengals and Giants. The sixth-year backup’s improvement will give Prescott time to recover, without the starter needing to be rushed back. But it will be interesting how the Cowboys play it if Dak deems himself ready ahead of their Rams tilt. The Cowboys face the Eagles in Philadelphia the following week.

Cowboys Won’t Place Dak Prescott On IR

After he underwent successful surgery on his injured thumb yesterday, attention surrounding Dak Prescott will now turn towards his recovery timeline. The Cowboys are optimistic that their franchise quarterback’s absence will be shorter than initially expected. 

Team owner Jerry Jones said this morning that the team will not be placing Prescott on IR (Twitter link via Jon Machota of The Athletic). Doing so was the expectation after the news of his injury broke, and would have guaranteed that Prescott missed the Cowboys’ next four games. Instead, this move leaves open the possibility that he could return in less than one month.

The recovery timetable was initially reported to be six to eight weeks. However, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero tweets that Prescott’s window to return could actually be four to six weeks, making the team’s decision a more understandable one. Dallas will play the Bengals in Week 2, followed by divisional games against the Giants and Commanders. A three-week absence through that stretch could set up Prescott for a return in Week 5 against the Rams. Prescott not going to IR will allow him to practice, when that time comes.

Perhaps more realistically, another key NFC East contest in Philadelphia the following week could be the time at which the two-time Pro Bowler is back on the field. In any event, the fact that the Cowboys are optimistic Prescott will be available for multiple games before their bye week is a significant and encouraging update for their offense. In the absence of Amari Cooper and Tyron Smith in particular, expectations were raised for Prescott to carry the unit which led the league in scoring last year.

Given the team’s positive outlook, it comes as little surprise that Jones also confirmed (via Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News, on Twitter) the Cowboys will not be pursuing a veteran backup. Cooper Rush will fill in for Prescott for the time being, leaving Will Grier as the No. 2. Should Prescott be able to return in just a few weeks, their performances will be less impactful on Dallas’ season than it originally seemed.