INDIANAPOLIS – There's some irony to be found here as the Dallas Cowboys dive into the 2020 NFL Combine.
Two weeks ago, things were "fixing to heat up" in regard to Dak Prescott's contract situation, to hear it from team chief operating officer Stephen Jones. But as of Monday afternoon, it's cold and rainy in downtown Indy – and it doesn't sound like talks with Prescott's agents are particularly warm.
"Will we talk to them? Hopefully so," Jones said. "We don't have a firm meeting set up yet, but the intent would be to visit with him."
That's where things have stood for much of the past six months. The Cowboys and their star quarterback were on the verge of a new contract at the outset of the 2019 season. But when those conversations stalled, the two sides ceased contact and haven't had any serious negotiations since September.
"Obviously, we didn't end up getting it done because they were pretty entrenched with their thoughts and we were pretty entrenched with our thoughts," Jones said. "I think really that's the facts of the world we work. Certainly, we've done a lot of thinking about it and looking at it and we'll see where it ends up."
None of this is necessarily new information, but it's relevant at this point on the NFL calendar. In addition to everything else happening this week at the Combine, Thursday is an important date in Prescott's contract negotiations, as it marks the first day the Cowboys can apply the franchise tag to his expiring deal.
Two weeks from there, on March 12, is the all-important deadline: there either must be a new contract or the tag goes into effect.
"Obviously, we're optimistic and our goal is to get it done before you have to tag, the last day to tag," Jones said.
Essentially, that gives the Cowboys 18 days to reach an agreement before the franchise tag comes into play. With a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in the works, not to mention a Pro Bowl wide receiver named Amari Cooper in need of his own deal, that seems like an entanglement the front office would like to avoid.
But the Cowboys aren't strangers to this type of pressure. Just last year, the organization seemed deadlocked in two different negotiations, only to reach agreements at the 11th hours.
"DeMarcus Lawrence, we went on for months and weeks and then we got on the phone with him and it was done in 36 hours. Same thing with Zeke," Jones said. "There is a lot of sitting and waiting and sitting and waiting. Then you get the momentum and things happen."
To this point, there hasn't been much evidence of that momentum – but that could change quickly. The Cowboys will be visiting with agents throughout this week in Indianapolis, and it stands to reason that Prescott will be one of their top priorities. There's also the matter of the CBA negotiations and the impact that will have on the conversation.
"Whether there is a CBA, whether there is not a CBA -- all those things are going to play into and going to be variables in terms of what our strategy is and what our discussions will be with these guys as we move forward," Jones said.
All of this can be simplified by saying that the wait continues for things to heat up. But as the offseason kicks into high gear, the Cowboys remain confident. And if there was any doubt that Dak Prescott is their quarterback moving forward, Jones did his best to put that to rest.
"Dak's our quarterback. He's our quarterback for the future and we have nothing but the greatest respect for him," he said. "He's a competitor. He's won a lot of football games for us. Obviously he, like us, we all want to take that next step and get into a championship game and get to the big game and ultimately win a championship."