Dak Prescott has two years left on the four-year, $2.7 million rookie deal he signed after the Cowboys took him in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Just 24 years old, Prescott is 22-10 as Dallas' starting quarterback, including a 13-3 record as a rookie.
As one of the league's best young players, even one coming off a down season, Prescott will be in line for a hefty raise because in today's NFL a team is only as good as its franchise quarterback. This reality isn't lost on the Cowboys.
"You know, at that position, it kind of is what it is," Dallas' executive vice president Stephen Jones said Wednesday, via the Dallas Morning News. "I know Dak is going to have a great year this year. I hope it's up there. It's going to be as he deserves. He was a fourth-round pick. No one deserves to get paid fairly more than he does. We all see what some of the other guys who aren't Aaron Rodgers, who aren't Matt Ryan [are earning]. He's going to do well. We certainly know that's going to happen. We've got that planned in our budgeting for the salary cap."
The expectation is that Prescott, who will count just $725,848 against the salary cap in 2018, will get his new deal next offseason. As it stands, he ranks 60th among all NFL quarterbacks in '18 cap hits, according to Spotrac, sandwiched between Cody Kessler (who is 0-8 as an NFL starter) and David Fales, a 2014 sixth-round pick who has played for four NFL teams and has attempted 43 passes during his four-year career.
After the Cowboys' success in 2016, it sure looked like they were following the same strategy as the Eagles and Rams: Take advantage of a young quarterback on his rookie deal and use that salary-cap surplus stock the roster with talent and depth at other positions. Philadelphia parlayed that into its first Lombardi Trophy and Los Angeles spent the offseason making the case that it's the NFC's best team despite the Eagles' recent title.
The Cowboys, meanwhile, slipped in 2017 and missed the playoffs after going 9-7. They now have questions at offensive line and wide receiver, and the defense ranked 25th last season, according to Football Outsiders. Yes, they used their 2018 first-round pick on inside linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, but other issues remain. And those issues won't magically go away when the Cowboys have to pay Prescott north of $25 million a year.
But the Cowboys will cross that bridge when they get to it. For now, it's all Prescott getting back to his rookie form and helping the team back to the postseason.
"I just want Dak to go out and be MVP this year of the NFL. That's what I want. Then, we'll deal with that," Jones said.