From the Press Box: Dallas Cowboys playing dangerous game with Dak Prescott


Quincy Carter, Ryan Leaf, Chad Hutchinson, Drew Henson, Vinny Testaverde and Drew Bledsoe.

What do all of these names have in common? They are quarterbacks that started for the Dallas Cowboys between Troy Aikman’s final year in 2000 and the start of the Tony Romo era in 2006.

They are also the proverbial who’s who list of quarterbacks you can list as Quarterback Purgatory.

As the deadline came and went earlier this week for the Dallas Cowboys and quarterback Dak Prescott to negotiate a new contract, the Cowboys essentially drew the line in the sand as to where they stand. 

But they may have also picked up the controller and selected Player 1 in a very dangerous game called “Avoiding Quarterback Purgatory.”

The Dallas Cowboys allegedly did have a four-year offer on the table for Prescott putting him somewhere in the neighborhood of $33-$34 million/year, which would have put him in the neighborhood of the Rams’ Jared Goff, Packers’ Aaron Rodgers and the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger. 

I typically lean pro-player in contract negotiations, personally. If you know what you’re worth, go out and get it. But I also think the Cowboys’ offer is a fair one to Dak and who knows what the guarantees were in the deal?

That being said, the Cowboys trying to dictate the quarterback market is a very bold move.

Forget the recently signed Patrick Mahomes. He is in a stratosphere all on his own. Teams and players alike should look at him as the exception, not the rule.

But considering the Cowboys have paid “Mr. Cut-in-Line” Ezekiel Elliott, overpaid Amari Cooper and DeMarcus Lawrence, there is something to be said for the quarterback who has done everything right in Prescott.

Prescott is 40-24 as a starter, threw for 4,902 yards (second in the league) in 2020, has won a playoff game and brought two division titles to Dallas.

He allowed the Cowboys to not be in the quarterback market after Tony Romo retired following Prescott’s outstanding rookie campaign.

Unfortunately, the Cowboys are looking at Prescott’s short-comings more than his accomplishments.

In 2020, Prescott and the Cowboys were 2-6 against teams with winning records. They were 6-2 in teams with losing records.

Prescott also had a terrible second year as a quarterback while Elliott was suspended and left tackle Tyron Smith was banged up.

These are valid points and are the reason why I felt like the offer Dallas gave him was solid and he should of took it. But again, I understand why players don’t take the money and run. 

Since Prescott has been in the league, the Eagles’ Carson Wentz has been given a new contract. Wentz missed the last part of 2017 and part of the ensuing season with injury. He was also hurt in their playoff game just this past season.

Prescott hasn’t missed a game. Isn’t a players greatest ability “avail-ability?”

There is something to be said about how “good” (and some would say “great”) Prescott has been. 

If Prescott plays well and the Cowboys put the franchise tag on him again next year, his salary goes up for one year by 20 percent past this year’s tag of $31.4 million.

If the Cowboys don’t want to pay that large salary, he walks and the Cowboys are back in Quarterback Purgatory. They don’t know if the next guy is good or bad, and they don’t know when the next good one is coming.

That’s not where Dallas wants to be, ask Broncos fans.

John Lee is the editor of The Pampa News and can be reached at or find him on Twitter: @jcl1987.

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