On Wednesday, the Dallas Cowboys held a press conference to announce Dak Prescott's new record deal. As CBS Sports' Patrik Walker notes, it was an exhaustive negotiation for both sides that began two years ago and saw a mix of compromises and stalemates that led to a franchise tag being applied in 2020, and it looked like another franchise tag could be on the way this offseason. Thankfully, this week both parties agreed to a four-year deal worth a maximum value of $160 million with a whopping $126 million in guaranteed money.
There were moments over the past year where it never felt like Prescott and the Cowboys would agree to a new deal. Apart from multiple reports indicating the two sides were not close in negotiations, Prescott suffered a gruesome compound fracture and dislocated ankle in Week 5 this past season, and had to be rushed to the hospital. At that point in time, it was easy to doubt that Prescott would be signing a lucrative deal with Dallas this offseason, but the quarterback found inspiration in a rival. A player who came back from something similar that proved it was possible.
When discussing the comeback from his injury on Wednesday, Prescott said he looked to former Washington Football Team quarterback Alex Smith as an example to follow.
"I have to thank Alex Smith," said Prescott. "At that moment when you're sitting there and you have an injury like that ... to see somebody who has already done it -- and did it actually in worse circumstances, that allowed my mind to go 'I can do this.'"
Back in 2018, Smith suffered a compound fracture in his leg that resulted in a broken tibia and fibula. After the initial operation, Smith's leg became infected with a flesh-eating bacteria which resulted in him requiring 16 more surgeries. Smith was eventually cleared of all infections, and was then placed in an external fixator which he was attached to for several months. After what was more than a full year of rehab, Smith earned a spot on Washington's active roster heading into the 2020 season.
Smith eventually returned to the field and completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 1,582 yards, six touchdowns and eight interceptions in eight games played in 2020, but more importantly went 5-1 as the starter. Washington ended up finishing with a 7-9 record and won its first NFC East title since 2015. Naturally, Smith won the 2020 NFL Comeback Player of the Year award in a landslide.
Prescott refused to set a timeline for being "100 percent" next season, but said he's getting better and better each day. In 2021, Prescott will have the chance to do exactly what Smith did: Lead his team to the playoffs and potentially win Comeback Player of the Year.