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Cowboys news: QB Prescott’s looming extension still “elephant in the room” for successful offseason

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Until Dak Prescott’s extension gets worked out, the offseason for Cowboys feels incomplete.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Agent's Take: Dak Prescott's reps should consider lucrative five-year deal over sticking to short-term - Joel Corry, CBSSports.com
Here's how a five-year deal could work for Dak Prescott despite his desire to sign for a shorter length of time.

There wouldn’t be many circumstances where a five-year deal would get real consideration from Prescott’s agent. First off, I would be operating under the assumption that Prescott would get a second franchise tag in 2021 at the CBA-mandated 20 percent increase, so his salary next year would be $37,690,800. Prescott would make nearly $69.1 million through 2021 by going year-to-year with unrestricted free agency as a realistic possibility in 2022, since a third franchise tag would be $54,274,752, a 44 percent increase over the 2021 franchise tag.

The question essentially becomes what type of three-year deal (covering the 2022 through 2024 seasons) can Dallas offer two years early in an enticing enough five-year structure to abandon the quest for a four-year deal or forego making almost $69.1 million by playing the franchise tag game before likely hitting the open market.

The $40 million-per-year quarterback is on the horizon. The Texans have had preliminary discussions regarding a new deal with 2017 first-round pick Deshaun Watson, who is under contract through the 2021 season. After the Texans dramatically reset the offensive tackle market with Laremy Tunsil at $22 million per year on a shorter-than-expected deal (a three-year extension), it wouldn’t be too surprising for Watson’s extension to hit the $40 million-per-year mark.

Cowboys VP Stephen Jones calls Dak Prescott talks a 'zero sum game' - Jack Baer, YahooSports
Contract talks between Cowboys and Dak Prescott have dominated the team's offseason and we're still at a divide.

Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones acknowledged to reporters on Wednesday that Prescott’s contract status is “the elephant in the room” for the team’s offseason, according to The Dallas Morning News.

In particular, Jones indicated that Prescott is in line for a big-time deal, but that it wouldn’t come without major salary cap ramifications.

“Jerry [Jones] has always told me, as a mentor of mine, as the money gets bigger, the deals get harder,’’ Stephen Jones said. “Obviously, when we’re talking about Dak, it’s as big as it gets in the NFL. So, it’s got to be right for Dak and it’s got to be right for us.

“It’s a zero sum game for Jerry and I. We’re just dividing up cap space. Whatever we do here is just a matter of how much we want to allocate to one player.’’

After a busy offseason, are the Cowboys better than they were last season? - David Moore, SportsDayDFW
How much better is this Cowboys’ roster today than where it was after last season?

Slowly, the Cowboys began to offset their losses with one targeted signing after another. Then came the draft. Then came Andy Dalton.

The prevailing sentiment now is that Dallas has won the offseason. What it has done is being hailed as a rousing success.

The truth lies somewhere in between.

The hemorrhaging that took place in March, when the team lost seven starters to free agency or retirement, has stopped. The club appears to have picked up at least five starters and pumped new life into the roster by adding just under 35 players through free agency, the draft and rookie free agency.

Proclaiming this team is clearly better than it was to end last season is premature. The Cowboys have a chance to be better. That’s all they can say at this stage of a virtual offseason that’s been extended to the end of May.

A chance.

Sportsbooks like Cowboys this season but are they really that much better? - Frank Schwab, YahooSports
The Cowboys were 8-8 last season but expect to be much better in 2020.

The offseason was a mixed bag. Dallas lost cornerback Byron Jones and pass rusher Robert Quinn, and then had center Travis Frederick retire. Other pieces like defensive tackle Maliek Collins and receiver Randall Cobb left, too. The Cowboys acquired some reinforcements like defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and cornerback Anthony Brown, but lost more than they gained and it wasn’t close.

Then they had a fantastic draft that was universally applauded. The 2017 New Orleans Saints and 2018 Indianapolis Colts got huge bumps from great rookie classes, and maybe this is a similar class for the Cowboys. The offense in particular is loaded with stars (though, again, Prescott still needs to sign an extension or his franchise tag).

The ledger still doesn’t show a team that did enough in the offseason to transform itself from 8-8 to a contender.

Which Cowboys’ CB will be trusted to cover the top WR’s in the NFL? - DallasCowboys.com
The Cowboys remade their cornerback room and one addition will get every shot to earn a starting role early.

The player who will be given the most immediate opportunity to fill Jones’ shoes is likely to be second-round pick Trevon Diggs. The younger brother of Buffalo Bills star receiver Stefon Diggs, Trevon started two seasons at cornerback under Nick Saban at Alabama and recorded four interceptions over that time. The Cowboys also seem particularly satisfied with the fourth-round selection of Reggie Robinson out of Tulsa. Robinson recorded four interceptions last season—along with being an essential playmaker at every aspect of special teams—but the 6-1 cornerback says that he considers himself a physical press cornerback who welcomed comparisons to the likes of Richard Sherman and Xavier Rhodes.

Cowboys draftee Neville Gallimore’s best football might be ahead of him - Todd Archer, ESPN
The former Sooners’ DT Neville Gallimore could be ready to take flight in the NFL, on the biggest stage, with the Cowboys.

“The Tech quarterback is scrambling, breaks the pocket and is now several yards down the field,” Grinch said. “[Gallimore] chases him down, strips the ball out and gets a takeaway for us. That’s indicative of his ability to run and hit, sideline to sideline.”

One of Grinch’s early coaching stops was at the University of New Hampshire, where he recruited Canadian kids. The coaches there had an axiom with Canadian-born players: it took them three years to get up to speed with the game.

“That’s why I think his best football is ahead of him,” Grinch said.

Cowboys need bounce back season from LB’s Jaylon Smith & Leighton Vander Esch - Matthew Lenix, InsideTheStar
More than anything else, the Cowboys’ defense could use bounce-back seasons from their young star linebackers.

Vander Esch was on pace to have another very productive season in 2019 until he left a Week 7 matchup vs the Philadelphia Eagles with a neck injury. He would miss the team’s next game vs the New York Giants. Vander Esch would play in two more games vs the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions before his neck issues became too much and he was ruled out for the of the season.

He underwent surgery in January to fix the issue. Now, Vander Esch is expected to have no limitations and will be available for all of the Cowboys offseason plans. In this 4-3 scheme with 3-4 principles, Vander Esch will slide over to the middle linebacker. According to Jane Slater of NFL Network, if you back and watch the film from the New Orleans Saints game a year ago it’ll give you a sense of how Vander Esch will be used. He’ll be attacking the gaps in the middle as opposed to running sideline to sideline.

Mailbag: Should Cowboys’ expect big years for linebackers Jaylon Smith & Leighton Vander Esch - DallasCowboys.com
With the bulk added to the interior defensive line, is it fair to expect big things for the Cowboys’ linebackers?

David: They need to. It’s obviously a team effort, but I think the success of the linebacker corps was one of the main reasons why the defense was so great in 2018. Those guys need to be flying around, using their athleticism and instincts to mitigate plays. They invested a top-20 pick in Vander Esch, and they gave Jaylon Smith a lot of money. If they don’t play up to those expectations, it’s going to hurt their on-field performance and their salary cap situation.

Jonny: The linebacker core is a collective question mark, which is odd to say considering it’s made up of three Pro Bowlers. But all three have extensive injury history. Sean Lee is on the other side of a decade in this league. So the first big question is whether all three can stay on the field. If so, then it’s on Jaylon Smith to take the next step. He has the physical tools to be even better than he is. If he can silence his critics, then I think a healthy Vander Esch is a star and a healthy Lee is at least reliable. That’s how they reach the potential you’re talking about.

Is there a better WR Corps in NFL than Cowboys with Amari, Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb? - Matthew Postins, SportsIllustrated
The Cowboys already looked strong at receiver but now with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb, they are hard to beat.

The Cowboys fell into a bit of luck with Lamb dropping to them at No. 17 overall in the first round. While it didn’t necessarily satisfy a pressing need, the value was hard to ignore. Lamb was their No. 6 player on their overall board (or maybe even a tick higher?), making him the No. 1 player on their board at the time.

WHERE WE GO FROM HERE: The first three roster spots are set at wide receiver. Amari Cooper is your No. 1, Michael Gallup is your No. 2 and Lamb is your No. 3 (though it will be interesting if the statistics reflect that at season’s end).

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