Dak Prescott recently saw his franchise tag balloon to roughly $31 million, but it's mostly of no consequence to him, because he has yet to sign it and would prefer to avoid having to altogether. As talks remain ongoing between the two-time Pro Bowl quarterback and the Dallas Cowboys, prior to the NFL deadline of July 15 -- sources continue to affirm to CBS Sports -- but inking Prescott to a longterm deal doesn't mean the team is all set at the position. The role of backup QB doesn't exactly look promising at the moment, and that's why they might look to address it in the 2020 NFL Draft.
The team re-signed Cooper Rush on a one-year deal worth $2.133 million this offseason, but the former undrafted free agent hasn't shown much of anything when given the chance. His rookie preseason was quite impressive, but he's since struggled to distance himself from Mike White, who was finally released in 2019 after two preseasons of pushing Rush to the limit in what can only be characterized as a race between a tortoise and a snail. With White gone and Rush clearly not the definitive answer behind Prescott, the Cowboys had a virtual pre-draft interview with Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts, and a conversation (or two) with Florida International University signal-caller James Morgan, per Jane Slater of NFL Network.
So if the Cowboys decide to spend a mid-rounder or later on a quarterback, team exec Stephen Jones says it's all about QB2.
"The philosophy we have, as to Dak's contract, is to what it's always been," Jones noted on Tuesday of draft week. "We like to develop a young quarterback. It's always great. We would like to have one to the develop to the level you could trade and build assets that way."
Up to now, the Cowboys haven't done a good job at achieving that goal. They struggled mightily to locate a solid backup on the back end of Tony Romo's career, as evidenced in 2015, when three separate quarterbacks mustered a combined record of just 1-11 in Romo's absence due to injury. The team finished 4-12 that year, and three of the wins belonged to Romo. To resolve that issue, they spent a fourth-round compensatory pick on Prescott in 2016, and the rest is history. Prescott went on to supplant Romo and win Rookie of the Year honors, and he hasn't missed a single start since en route to currently negotiating a deal that will make him the highest-paid player in franchise history (if not the NFL as a whole).
That said, seeing as Prescott has now logged 67 out of a possible 67 starts -- including the playoffs -- is there truly a reason to spend a pick on what happens behind him? Considering this is still the NFL and injuries are forever an occupational hazard, the answer is a resounding yes.
Additionally, head coach Mike McCarthy has already prompted the Cowboys to take on a "philosophical change" from a free agency standpoint, and that will carry into his first draft with the team. McCarthy, who engineered the Green Bay Packers' success first with Brett Favre and then with Aaron Rodgers, never shied away from drafting quarterbacks despite having had his ace(s) in the hole.
"Mike can speak to it," Jones said. "He wants a certain number of quarterbacks in the building ideally to be working with. Mike brings a really good background in developing quarterbacks."
McCarthy has repeatedly joined the Joneses in being all-in on Prescott and views him as being a championship-caliber quarterback, while alsowhen it comes to contract talks and to "let the business people work out the business matter", cementing the thought that any QB taken in this year's draft would have nothing to do with Prescott.
This is the same coach who selected a quarterback in four different NFL drafts with Favre and/or Rodgers at the helm, which goes to Jones' point on what McCarthy likes to see happening in his QB room, even if his starter is already christened. As it stands, it's a room that contains a definitive starter in Prescott but a highly questionable backup in Rush, along with Clayton Thorson -- a second-year talent who was a fifth-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2019 that signed on last season but was never activated from the practice squad.
Needless to say, there's nothing about the backup QB situation in Dallas that makes McCarthy feel all warm and fuzzy. As such, he might ask the Cowboys to throw another log on the fire this weekend.