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Mailbag: Another Gear for Dak Prescott?

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Do you worry about the team coming off an 8-8 season, then paying Dak Prescott most of the money, and the caliber of team around him suffering?– BAILEY MOFFETT / NEW ORLEANS, LA

Nick: Not really. I see the point but I think this team has a chance to be much better than 8-8. Look at the wins and the losses. Most of the losses were relatively close and the wins were blowouts. To me, that suggests that if this team can improve just a little, that's a chance to win 3-4 more games. You do that, and you're 11-5 and we're talking about a different team. I think you have to pay Dak and there will be money to go around for other good players.

Rob: I'd worry more about what your alternatives would be at quarterback. Yes, above-average to elite starting quarterbacks make a lot of money. But Prescott has been to the playoffs twice in four years. He has won important football games. And the Cowboys believe he'll get better and better. That's why he's not going anywhere. The alternative? Well, you'd be starting over in the draft, I guess. Just remember those lean years between Troy Aikman and Tony Romo from 2001-05 when the Cowboys started eight different quarterbacks and went 35-45 with one playoff appearance.

Do you think Dak has another gear, or has he possibly hit his ceiling?– SEBASTIAN LUTHOR / DETROIT, MI

Nick: I think he certainly has another gear. He can get better for sure. Remember that Tony Romo sat and watched for three full seasons before throwing a single pass. His fourth year is when he started to play. And just think how much he improved over the years. Dak has played four years and can still improve. Russell Wilson is another good example of a guy that continues to get better.

Rob: I don't think Prescott has hit his ceiling. The Cowboys didn't win the close games last year, so his detractors say that's a reason not to pay him. But he showed tangible progress as a downfield passer. And he has won in the clutch before. Hiring Mike McCarthy as head coach – the best possible candidate in terms of experience with top quarterbacks – is a strong indication the Cowboys believe Prescott can reach another level. I tend to agree because I watched Tony Romo reach a point where he was completely in control of the offense. Talent was part of it, but experience might be the most important factor for an NFL quarterback, and Prescott has made year-to-year improvement.

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