As the Dallas Cowboys turn the 2020 page to Andy Dalton in the wake of a devastating injury to Dak Prescott, the topic of the latter's contract situation remains at the forefront of conversations. Prescott, who suffered a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle that required surgery to repair, entered the season on a $31.4 million franchise tag after a failed last-ditch effort to come to terms on a multi-year deal on July 15. The two-time Pro Bowler went on to set franchise and NFL records in his first four games of the season, building upon a career year in 2019 from a statistical standpoint, but some wonder if the current injury will make the Cowboys front office rethink their stance on keeping him in tow come 2021 and beyond.
That answer to that question is no, as hammered home by team exec Stephen Jones on Monday -- who proclaimed Prescott "is our future" -- and now cemented by owner Jerry Jones on Tuesday. When asked by 105.3FM the Fan if Prescott's injury gives the Cowboys concerns in their latest contract dance to come, the Hall of Fame owner couldn't have been more unequivocal in his stance.
"None," he said. "We've known for a long time that you can have a great player at this spot, but then not have him at periods of time during his career. We had it with Aikman. We had it with Romo. You don't always have them.
"So, you've got to rely on other parts of your team. That's why we do not and do not go into a contract negotiation with the idea that it stands alone. It has to be a part of your tools which you have, which is your salary cap to put a team on the field and try to figure out the best way to win. And really that's the underlying issue here."
With the surgery on Prescott's ankle having been a success, sources tell CBS Sports the expected timetable for his return is anywhere from 4-6 months. Jones more or less confirmed that expectation on Tuesday, noting Prescott should be back on the field for spring conditioning.
"Yeah, you got it," Jones said of a late spring return. "You're right in there. Well, you say, 'My goodness, which one? That's 90 days difference.' But certainly, if you look ahead, he should be ready to go for our spring work and the latter part of the spring work. But knowing Dak, and that's a big part of this thing -- knowing Dak and his makeup -- he'll be back out there soon.
"Physically I'm told by the doctors, by our own experience of seeing this injury, physically there should be no problem with him being back out there in early May or April."
Should that timeline hold true, Prescott will get most of if not an entire offseason worth of work, per his normal routine. It's safe to expect the Cowboys will ease him back in slowly, but there's currently nothing that indicates he won't be a full go for training camp and eventually Week 1 of the 2021 season.
"I don't have any [concerns about Prescott's ability to recover from this]," Jones said. "I really don't have any. I don't at all. I got as much as God lets us get, and the nature of what they found when they did the surgery.
"It's all positive relative to a recovery. Nothing's positive about it -- don't misinterpret -- but it's a positive as to his chances as to getting it back to normal. We've had similar injuries. You do this long enough and we've seen them. We've had similar injuries before, and this one of those that you can mend and come back and be as good as gold."
And that will presumably be with the Cowboys, who will likely exercise a second franchise tag to buy time to get a deal done if one isn't in hand by late February. If so, they'll again have until July 15 to finally jump the broom after two failed attempts in consecutive offseasons. Time will tell if the 2020 version of Prescott that saw him utilize his legs more to make big plays will still be a thing, but Jones isn't exactly fond of the idea -- still very much in a raw state being only 48 hours removed from having witnessed the gruesome injury.
"With your quarterback, and in this particular case I don't want to use the word quarterback, with Dak and all of the many things that he means to our team, we've got to be very judicious when we expose him in the future."