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Cowboys news: Dak Prescott, Jason Garrett are expected to deliver in 2019

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Plus, looking ahead to the Giants game.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott poised to have best season, won’t be distracted by contract - Clarence Hill, The Star-Telegram

Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys begin the 2019 season on Sunday afternoon. Could it be Dak’s best to date?

Prescott knows his teammates are watching him and is admittedly mindful to how he reacts to the circus around him. But it is no act.

“I think you have to know as a leader you are up front and people look at you for a reaction, and sometimes people pick at things to see if you are reacting,” Prescott said. “I’d say a little bit. For the most part I think it’s just the way I was raised, everything that I’ve been through on and off the field, I just focus on what I can control and the rest of this stuff doesn’t matter to me.”

What he can control is his attitude and what he does on the field.

And he is poised to have the best season of his career with the best team he’s ever had around him.

The light clicked on for him late in 2018 in terms of comfort, confidence, knowledge and accuracy and “it’s carried over,” he said.

‘’It’s not even comparable to the last three years,’‘ Prescott said. ‘‘Just from a knowledge standpoint, how comfortable I am in my game. So to compare my confidence right now to any of the three years isn’t fair.”

For the Cowboys, it’s not about Zeke but if Dak is good enough for a Super Bowl - Mac Engel, The Star-Telegram

The Cowboys just gave Zeke big money, but Dak Prescott will determine what the ceiling of this team is, says Engel.

Dak inherited a good team, and it’s run well since he started. The team is 32-16 with Dak starting, and they have two NFC East titles.

He has been an efficient player, and is a good quarterback.

“It’s that command. His command of the whole deal. He has such comfort level of what we are doing, and a command of his teammates,” said first-year offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, who has known Dak since he entered the league. “His voice. His presence. I think everyone feels very confident when he goes out there.”

What Dak has not done is take the average receiver, or team, and make them better. The top quarterbacks elevate the average receiver and drop the ball in his lap for major plays to win a game.

The top quarterbacks can push average to good, and good to great.

That remains on Dak’s to-do list.

Lingering resentment? Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott, Jerry Jones all smiles and laughs now that business hours are over - Michael Gehlken, SportsDay

With Zeke back in the building and ready to roll, the All-Pro running back and Jerry Jones are all smiles.

Remember that 40-day holdout, the one whose coarseness once consumed headlines of Elliott having felt disrespected? A six-year, $90 million contract turns bygones into bygones. A media ceremony discussing Elliott’s extension was defined by its chumminess, expunging any perception of lingering resentment.

Jones presented Elliott a shirt that referenced their most publicly contentious period in negotiations.

The navy blue shirt read “Zeke who?” in white capital lettering. On its back, there was an illustration of a hurdling Elliott with “That’s who!” inscribed beneath it. On Aug. 17, Jones cracked “Zeke who?” to reporters following a strong preseason performance from rookie running back Tony Pollard.

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These dealings represented a fitting resolution to the jostle between player and team.

Their spat was just business.

”This is the way that contracts go,” Jones said. “This is the way that baseball goes. My point is that this is it; this is what happens. And then when it goes right, it goes boom, boom, boom. But it couldn’t get there if you hadn’t gone through all that other action in all those other weeks and all those other months. It couldn’t have gotten to that point.

Cowboys set to begin Super Bowl or bust campaign for hot-seat coach Jason Garrett - Clarence Hill, The Star-Telegram

How much pressure is Jason Garrett under to deliver this season?

The first game is finally here for a Cowboys season that will either end with a trip to the NFC Championship and possible Super Bowl for the first time since 1995 or with the firing of head coach Jason Garrett.

That’s it.

That’s the charge for the 2019 Cowboys heading into Sunday’s game against the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium.

Owner Jerry Jones has bolstered the roster with proven veteran newcomers like receiver Randall Cobb and defensive end Robert Quinn.

He has committed more than $300 million in contract extensions to defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, running back Ezekiel Elliott, linebacker Jaylon Smith and tackle La’el Collins in the last five months alone.

The Cowboys fired veteran offensive coordinator Scott Linehan, replacing him with neophyte Kellen Moore in hopes of fostering fresh ideas, creativity and less predictability.

But coach Jason Garrett is still on the hot seat in the final year of his contract, coaching for his job with the goal of reaching the Super Bowl for the first time in 24 years.

Mailbag: How Much Salary Cap Pie Is Left? - The Mothership

With Zeke, Tank, and La’el all receiving deals this offseason, how much more pie is left to go around? The crew over at The Mothership break it down.

Now that we know the financials surrounding Zeke’s deal, is it at all possible to still sign Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Leighton Vander Esch and Byron Jones, or will we have to let some talent walk? - JIMMY MIGUEL / ELIZABETH, NJ

Rob: Not sure why Vander Esch is in your group since he has up to four years left on his rookie deal, counting a fifth-year option. Obviously there’s less pie, as Jerry would say. Just know that he and Stephen Jones and their staff project their cap situation years down the road. They wouldn’t have extended Zeke, Jaylon Smith and Collins if they couldn’t make fair offers to Prescott, Cooper and others. The team does have a lot of players up after 2019. You never can keep absolutely everyone, but they intend to keep retaining the bulk of the core.

Bryan: The cap guys have always been consistent in saying they can sign them all but they also need agents to work with them. If Jaylon Smith and La’el Collins can do it others just might follow.

Dallas Cowboys’ top corner does not expect to get ‘any pie’ just yet. Is he upset? - Mac Engel, The Star-Telegram

Byron Jones is staying focused on what he can control, rather than getting ‘a piece of the pie’.

“Not at all,” Jones said. “For me, I am coming off surgery. I want to see how I look before anything. That’s what I think, and I think that’s what ownership thinks as well. Play well this year, and then I’ll get a contract.”

Two years ago, Jones was nearly gone but the Cowboys exercised the fifth year of his original, five-year rookie contract; this season, he will make $6.2 million.

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“No question it’s there, but life is about timing. You can’t force something that is not meant to happen,” Jones said. “It will come when it comes. It will come at the right time when it’s supposed to come. My time is coming. Just keep your head down and play well.”

Jones, who serves as the player representative for the Dallas Cowboys with the NFL Player’s Association, readily acknowledges that this just may be his last year with the team.

“That’s always the reality. I would love to stay here,” he said, “but this is the NFL and that is the reality.”

Predicting the Next Wave of NFL Megadeals After Zeke, Goff Extensions - Chris Roling, Bleacher Report

It’s just a matter of time before Dak gets paid.

Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is set to make roughly $2.1 million in 2019, the final year of his rookie contract.

His annual salary should go up 15-fold by next year.

Goff’s new deal checks in at an average annual value of $33.5 million, which is likely near where Prescott will land when the Cowboys make it happen. That would still put him below Russell Wilson, whose four-year, $140 million extension has an AAV of $35 million.

Prescott is one of the NFL’s most polarizing passers. The 2016 fourth-round pick has gone 32-16 during his three years as a starter and has completed 66.1 percent of his passes for 10,876 yards yards and 67 touchdowns against 25 interceptions, all without missing a game.

After the Cowboys acquired wideout Amari Cooper last year, Prescott threw 14 touchdowns against only four picks over nine games, and his completion percentage soared above 70 percent.

Is Prescott reliant on talent around him? Maybe. Can the Cowboys find a better option? One look around the league says no, so he’s likely to become the next quarterback to break the bank.

Chiefs, Tyreek Hill Agree to Three-Year, $54 Million Extension - Alaa Abdeldaiem, SI

Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill inked an extension with the Chiefs on Friday, which could impact Amari Cooper.

The Kansas City Chiefs and wide receiver Tyreek Hill have agreed to terms on a three-year, $54 million contract extension that makes him among the highest-paid receivers in the league, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on Friday. The Chiefs confirmed the extension on Twitter.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Hill’s new deal includes $35.5 million guaranteed. Rapoport added that Hill will receive a $5.8 million signing bonus. The 25-year-old Pro Bowl receiver was entering the final year of his rookie contract this season, making about $2 million in 2019.

Dak, D-Law, Jaylon Among Six Team Captains - Nick Eatman, The Mothership

The Dallas Cowboys released its six captains for the 2019 season on Friday, which includes Jaylon Smith.

For the third straight year, quarterback Dak Prescott was named a captain, an honor voted on by the players. He will be joined again by veteran guard Zack Martin. Defensive captains were DeMarcus Lawrence and Jaylon Smith, while special teams captains are Jeff Heath and Chris Jones.

Smith, who recently signed a new contract extension last week, is a first-time captain, but is entering his fourth season and considered one of the leaders on his side of the ball.

The most surprising part is perhaps who didn’t make the list. Veteran Jason Witten has long been a captain but after missing all of last season and returning this summer, he has even said as much as “it’s their team,” regarding the likes of young leaders such as Dak and Martin.

Film room: 3 key Cowboys-Giants matchups to watch, including DeMarcus Lawrence’s chance to create havoc - John Owning, SportsDay

Owning breaks down three matchups to keep an eye on ahead of Sunday’s game.

Cowboys’ front vs. Saquon Barkley

With Odell Beckham Jr. jettisoned to Cleveland along with the suspension to Golden Tate, Saquon Barkley is undoubtedly the primary enemy for the Cowboys defense Sunday.

If there’s a running back in the NFL who can rival (or even top) Ezekiel Elliott, it’s Barkley, who took home the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year honors last season after accumulating 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns from scrimmage.

Barkley is one of the most versatile and valuable running backs in the league, as he is a key cog in the Giants offense that can be used in a plethora of ways in both the running and passing games. Not only is Barkley successful on traditional runs but he’s also extremely dangerous on screens or when targeted as a receiver out of the backfield.

Despite being listed at 6-foot, 233 pounds (five pounds heavier than Elliott), Barkley is probably the most athletic running back in the NFL, as he uses outstanding lateral jump cuts, quick spin moves and almost unbelievable acceleration to slice and dice his way through opposing defenses.

Barkley is a big play waiting to happen, as his size and balance make him difficult to bring down while his athleticism enables him to elude defenders before finding space and creating big plays.

Giants at Cowboys: 7 things to watch as Giants aim for upset - Ed Valentine, Big Blue View

From the enemy’s perspective, here are seven things to watch for on Sunday afternoon.

Tony Pollard

Pollard, a fourth-round pick out of Memphis, would have been the Cowboys’ primary running back on Sunday had Ezekiel Elliott not signed his mega-contract during the week. He averaged 5.6 yards per carry (15 carries/84 yards) during the preseason.

Pollard running the ball, though, isn’t what the Giants are wary of. At Memphis, Pollard averaged 30.1 yards over three seasons on kickoff returns with seven touchdowns on 87 tries. The Cowboys didn’t use him in that role, but R.J. Ochoa of Blogging The Boys says the Giants will “definitely” see Pollard returning on Sunday.

Giants special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey is wary.

“He is very, very talented. The guy ran a 4.38, he hits it hard, straight, and fast,” McGaughey said. “He ran through some big holes at Memphis, but he ran all of the way through them and scored. The guy at Memphis, who is at Penn State now, did a great job at coaching him. I promise you, Tony Pollard is a very talented kid.”

The Giants have paid a great deal of attention to special teams the past two years. Recent roster moves like adding linebacker David Mayo and wide receiver Cody Core should have special teams benefits. Pollard should provide an early challenge.