Dak Prescott isn't taking any chances in his recovery from his season-ending injury, and the details of an additional surgery reveal no cause for concern, but rather quite the opposite. The two-time Pro Bowler was on yet another tear statistically for the Dallas Cowboys when he suffered a compound fracture in his right ankle in Week 5 that required emergency surgery to repair and, seeing as there was no nerve damage or other issue that would cause concern going forward, he could've stopped there and simply stuck to traditional rehab and remained on schedule to report to Cowboys offseason conditioning in April.
Instead, Prescott underwent a second procedure unrelated to the first -- in that there were no setbacks or infections from the initial surgery -- this time a voluntary one with the goal of doing minor clean-up work in the ankle, sources confirm to CBS Sports. It's something receiver CeeDee Lamb alluded to in a recent interview and, to put it more plainly, there were small areas of opportunity to perfect and strengthen Prescott's ankle that were identified when he originally had surgery to repair his fracture, but couldn't be done in one fell swoop.
So the primary issue was handled first and the other a couple months later, to minimize the risk of infection, one source noted -- noting the latter was akin to traditional clean-up procedures done by NFL players in the offseason, e.g., Amari Cooper in January.
The main difference is if Prescott hadn't broken his ankle, he likely wouldn't have known there was a chance to do clean-up work in it to help prevent future injury, and probably wouldn't have had the voluntary procedure done at all (and no one would've given it a second thought, considering he had never missed an NFL start in his career).
He's long since been back to rehabbing and prepping for 2021, going so far as to recently tell All-Pro running back Ezekiel Elliottfor his return. Now, all told, Prescott is not only ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation, but the prediction of owner Jerry Jones that the 27-year-old is expected to be "better than ever" makes that much more sense given what he knew but most didn't, in that Prescott's right ankle will potentially be better than it was before he fractured it. And so is the Cowboys' deepened understanding of his value to the club.
Additionally, Prescott is said to be able to move around freely without those crutches and a separate source notes he's completely out of his walking boot -- used now only for preventative measures, if at all.
This is why the Cowboys have zero qualms about dishing out what will be a historic deal, if the two sides can finally come to terms after two failed attempts in two consecutive offseasons. The team hasn't wavered one iota in proclaiming Prescott as the future of the organization, months after attempting to coax him into a deal that was one year longer than he wanted to commit to. They'd like to get a deal done before the franchise tag deadline in early March to avoid having to tag him a second time to the tune of $37.7 million to buy time for additional negotiations, and will soon reignite talks after having not yet done so while they seek additional clarity on what the 2021 salary cap will look like.
The problem is it's unknown when how soon the NFL and NFLPA will come to an agreement on this year's cap number, making it more difficult for the Cowboys to structure their next offer if they're truly trying to tie it to the cap -- for negotiating purposes. That means the expectation remains a second tag will land on Prescott, sources told CBS Sports on Feb. 1, with the deadline for negotiating a deal again set for July 15. There are rumors the cap could land anywhere from $180 million to $195 million, both being higher than the $175 million floor set one year ago due to revenue concerns created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of course, the Cowboys and Prescott would both like to avoid a third drawn-out negotiation attempt, and the latter's willingness to get on the phone with team exec Stephen Jones in an attempt to hash out an agreement in the final moments ahead of the previous July 15 deadline hints at more potential involvement from Prescott this time around. The same could probably be said for Jerry Jones, who a source noted was keen to allow Stephen Jones control of the QB's negotiations in the last two rounds, but knows he's dangerously close to losing his franchise quarterback in a landscape wherein he's proven himself the only elite QB in his 2016 draft class, and as a fourth-round pick that cost the Cowboys only pennies on the dollar his first four years.
That last point shouldn't and hasn't been forgotten, especially considering what Jared Goff and Carson Wentz earned on rookie deals. And as the elder Jones made clear early in 2020, endorsements have no bearing whatsoever in contract talks with a player, and have never come up when negotiating with Prescott or his agent, Todd France.
There's a ton on the line this time around for Prescott and the Cowboys as they try to hash out terms, and the pressure on the team to acquiesce is at its zenith, from Jones admitting he can't fathom how Prescott "could have any more leverage" to legends like Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith joining the ranks of Darren Woodson and Roger Staubach in wanting to see a deal done yesterday. Another push is coming to try and make it happen, and with Prescott's health of absolutely no concern to anyone inside the building, there's one less obstacle on the road ahead.
The only question is when they'll stop pulling over at rest stops and reach their destination.