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Mailbag: Why Different Standards For Dak & Zeke? 


A lot has been asked and written about the Cowboys trading Dak. I wonder if the organization has considered the possibility Dak wants to leave the Cowboys and seeks a trade or free agency? – TRIPLETT ROCKY / SPARKS, NV

David: I think two things can be true. Dak probably wants to be paid at the fair market value, and he'd probably be happy to play for anyone who could do that for him. At the same time, I'd bet he does recognize the benefits of being the face of America's Team, and he doesn't want to sever those ties until he has to. On top of that, the price involved in a major quarterback trade – not to mention his injury – could make that hard to pull off. Even if Dak wants to leave, which I doubt, I can think of worse ways to achieve that than to play another year on the franchise tag, pocket $38 million and then hit the open market in 2022.

Nick: At this point, everything seems to be on the table. We've gone for two years now and nothing has happened. So even though both sides have said they want a deal to happen, they haven't been able to come to a common ground. I wouldn't say Dak necessarily wants to leave, but he just wants to be compensated fairly - by his standards. He did play a few years for a salary less than $2 million so he's obviously looking to cash in. And it seems like that is more important than anything else. So I wouldn't say he's seeking a trade yet but when you're negotiating, you've got to use everything you've got to gain leverage.

Why is it you have differing thoughts about Dak and Zeke? Seems like the "glass half full" with Dak and "glass half empty" with Zeke. I think you'd be hard-pressed to come up with 5 players at each of those positions better than our guys, but Dak is great, but Zeke is just good. – GARET TANAKA / WAILUKU, HI

David: The simple is answer is probably that Zeke is paid to be the best running back in the NFL, and he wasn't close to that in 2020. Is that fair? Maybe not. He lost his quarterback and the vast majority of his offensive line. But those are the expectations that go along with a $90 million price tag. It's honestly hard to compare, because we only got to see 5.5 games of Dak last year. The narrative about him would undoubtedly be different if he had been able to play every game. At the end of the day, it's a bit irrelevant to me. They're both valuable pieces of this offense, and I think they'll both rebound in a big way in 2021.

Nick: Funny that you asked that here. I actually argued with Dave and others on "Cowboys Break" this week about whether Dak is good or great. I think he's really good but once he signs this deal, he's going to need to be better that great. As for Zeke, it comes down to the contract and how much he's already getting paid. Once you get a contract as one of the highest-paid players in the NFL, the expectations obviously go through the roof. The minute Dak signs this deal the expectations will be the same for him as well.

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