This Sunday's Redskins matchup could very well be the last game Jason Garrett coaches for the Dallas Cowboys, but don't ask Dak Prescott about that particular topic. The fourth-year quarterback has known more than his share of success under Garrett since joining the club in 2016 as the fourth-round compensatory pick, but he also knows the sting of having been unable to turn the corner in that same timeframe.
It's true Garrett's contract is expiring the instant the 2019 season is over, but he's not the only one, as Prescott readily pointed out this week to reporters.
"I think it's the last game on mine, as well," he said. "I'll be damned if I speak on anybody else's future or their place."
Prescott is both correct and not-so-correct in his comment, because while it's true neither he nor Garrett are under contract in 2020, it's a flat-out guarantee one of them isn't going anywhere. That person would be Prescott, whom the team attempted to sign to an extension multiple times in 2019. The 26-year-old instead opted to play the market and then bet big on himself over the course of the season, figuring the final offer from the Cowboys could and would only travel north.
With deals landing on Russell Wilson, Carson Wentz and Jared Goff this year, playing the market has worked out swimmingly for Prescott. Outside of his recent downturn in production -- be it fueled by a sprained AC joint in his shoulder or not -- his 2019 season has mostly been a leveled-up one under the tutelage of new quarterbacks coach Jon Kitna and a more pass-friendly offense called by Kellen Moore.
The hiccups in Moore's gameplan as of late have helped blow a hole in the side of the Cowboys boat, but Prescott's stock isn't exactly tanking in the process. He's shown the club more than enough to warrant them reattempting to negotiate with him this coming offseason, and if a deal doesn't get done in a timely fashion, Prescott will be franchise tagged -- period.
Yes, that comes attached to a projected $26.7 million price tag, but the Cowboys will have upwards of $100 million in cap space, and they won't blink in tagging Prescott to make sure no other team gets within sniffing distance of him. Additionally,that the added holdup between the two sides is the length of the deal, with Prescott wanting to run shorter to allow him a chance at renegotiating in a few years, particularly after activation of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, while the Cowboys want to lock him in for a deal that ranges closer to a seven- or eight-year term -- minimum.
For his part, Prescott has made it clear time and again he wants to be nowhere but Dallas, but this is all new to him. It isn't to his representation, though, having hired mega-firm Creative Artists Agency to negotiate his new deal. CAA has a longstanding relationship with the Cowboys, having also represented Tony Romo in his time with the team.
"It's the business. It's my first time going through it," Prescott said. "I'm not surprised by anything that comes from it -- from the league, from the team, whatever. Learning as I go."
What Prescott is also about to learn is what an NFL regime change looks like, and all that comes with it.
The Cowboys are now 7-8 on the season after losing a pivotal NFC East rematch with the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 16, wherein they could've clinched the division crown and a seat in the playoffs. Instead, they played another round of horrid football only one week after shredding the Los Angeles Rams -- a two-game span that's an eery microcosm of Garrett's time with the franchise as its head coach.
One year, they're dominant, but disappointing the next. One month they're elite, but below average the next. One week they're a contender, but a filler club the next. One play they're unstoppable, but trying to kick a 58-yard field goal on an opening drive the next.
Owner Jerry Jones, who openly admits to having wasted the prime years of Romo, is being urged by others behind the scenes to not repeat the mistake with Prescott. One of the most influential voices is that of team exec Stephen Jones, who was integral in halting an extension being given to Garrett in January. The elder Jones was fully prepared to do so after seeing the historic mid-season turnaround, but the junior Jones needed more, though it doesn't appear he'll get it; and so, neither will Garrett.
With three wheels having already fallen off in 2019 and the fourth hanging on by only one lug nut, the Cowboys must defeat the Washington Redskins in Week 17 and hope the New York Giants defeat the Eagles in order to extend the season and, subsequently, the contracts of Garrett and Prescott for at least another week (or more). Unlike the former, however, the latter will still have a home in North Texas come 2020, no matter what.
With both Joneses on the same page regarding the future of Prescott -- a quarterback that-- his last day under contract may be soon-to-come, but that technicality will ultimately be wholly inconsequential.