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Cowboys QB room among the most experienced in the league

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We know Andy Dalton has years as a starter. But did you realize Dak Prescott now is in the upper half of all starters in his time on the field?

Dallas Cowboys v Chicago Bears
Just four years in, and he’s one of the wise veterans of the league.
Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Experience matters. If you don’t understand that, then you probably need more experience. There is a value in knowing how things work, and putting in the time to hone your skills and abilities. That applies to almost everything in life, including football. The Dallas Cowboys may be relying a lot on the experienced roster they have, as Rob Phillips reported at DallasCowboy.com. The fact Mike McCarthy considers this one of the most experienced groups he has ever led was a bit surprising. But one Dallas player in particular really jumped out.

There are only a dozen projected starting NFL quarterbacks with more career starts than the 26-year-old Prescott: Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Rodgers, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Russell Wilson, Matt Stafford, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Derek Carr, Kirk Cousins, Ryan Tannehill and Cam Newton. That’s valuable for an incoming head coach.

The thought that Dak Prescott now ranks that high in how many regular season games he has started is surprising, at least to me. There is more than one thing that this may teach us.

Prescott was indeed part of the draw for McCarthy

Most of the focus was on the talent Prescott brought to the position, but this is a new element that may have been another factor in McCarthy wanting the job. His old starter is high on this list, and so was Brett Favre when McCarthy first took over the Green Bay Packers. He did bring Aaron Rodgers along when Favre left, but he had the luxury of not having to thrust the former into the starting role right away.

Prescott obviously avoids all that. He is not only well established in general, he also has last year working with Kellen Moore. As Phillips noted, the unusual situation the NFL finds itself in (along with the rest of the world) makes experience especially valuable now.

Availability is the best ability

Jared Goff and Carson Wentz will always be linked to Prescott. This is one thing where there is no question which of them has done better. Prescott has started all 64 games since he entered the league, with Goff only having 54 and Wentz 56. So far, Prescott has exhibited great durability, with only one game in his career that he probably shouldn’t have been on the field due to injury, the next-to-last contest against the Philadelphia Eagles last year.

We all know about the issues Wentz has had, which led to the second-round pick of Jalen Hurts as his heir apparent backup. So far, that really has not been a worry for the Cowboys. They still addressed it this offseason, which we will get to in a bit.

Quarterbacking in the NFL is hard

Stop for a moment and think about all the quarterbacks that were taken in the six years before Prescott. Given the longevity that the best players can have at the position (note the first few names on that list above), good ones from that time should still be playing, and just by starting should have wound up ahead of Prescott on that list.

With the notable exception of Andrew Luck, who retired after far too many hits, the only logical conclusion about all those other QBs that were drafted during that time is that they just weren’t that good. Many are long gone, while a few like Marcus Mariota have hung on as backups.

Finding someone of Prescott’s skills and toughness at the tail end of the fourth round is just something that almost never happens. There are just times when it is better to be lucky than good. Given that the Cowboys tried to get both Paxton Lynch and Connor Cook before “settling” for Prescott, luck was clearly with them in 2016.

So pay the man

That’s it. That’s the whole section.

Now, about that other quarterback on the roster

If new QB2 Andy Dalton had landed a starting job rather than coming to Dallas, he would have pushed Prescott down further on the list. While Dalton had a rough last few seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, he did have some good years earlier in his career. Now, if he should be forced into action he would line up with arguably the best talent surrounding him he has ever had. The Cowboys are not going to be forced into putting Prescott out there at less than 100% this year, assuming the season goes off as planned. Dalton can come in for a game or more and keep the ship afloat until Prescott is back to form.

Combined with Prescott, he also gives the Cowboys some of the most experience starting NFL games any team in the league can boast. The first few player in the list eclipse them on their own, but all are in the twilight of their careers, although one or more may still get to a spectacular sunset before exiting the league. Still, it puts Dallas in an enviable position, and given that Prescott is still only 26, they should be set for most of the next decade. As some of the true graybeards retire, he is just going to climb that list. If he has the success and longevity we hope for, he may one day top it.