Amid the most unique and unprecedented offseason in NFL history, the topic that is at the center of so many conversations among Cowboys fans doesn't seem to rank in the top 10 things Mike McCarthy is worried about.
The first-year Cowboys head coach isn't filling his days by analyzing Dak Prescott's long term future. He's too busy preparing for potential training camp locations, keeping abreast of NFL updates, orienting rookies into the NFL, and helping his players understand the new schemes they'll be playing, all while he's five states away from the franchise he was recently hired to lead to the playoffs.
The Cowboys chose to franchise Prescott, which would guarantee him $31.4 million for the 2020 season. But the quarterback has not yet signed the tag, which muddles his current status with the team. It's no secret that the application of the franchise tag was the result of an inability by Prescott and the Cowboys to reach an agreement on a long term deal. However, it does not sound like McCarthy believes it is a situation that demands his constant attention.
"He's involved in a business situation," McCarthy said on a conference call with DFW media Wednesday. "I have full confidence that he'll be ready to go."
The two sides still have until a July 15 deadline to work out a multi-year contract that appeases Prescott and keeps him in Dallas for the foreseeable future. Under normal circumstances, the current stalemate would likely raise greater concerns as it would be preventing Prescott from joining his teammates on the field for off-season preparation. But the coronavirus pandemic has reduced all NFL activities to detailed virtual meetings conducted from players' homes.
Still, Prescott is the most crucial player on a team with a brand new Super Bowl-winning head coach and the raised expectations that accompany such a hiring. Cowboys fans understandably interpret any lack of news as troubling news in regards to Prescott's standoff with the team. But McCarthy clarified on Wednesday that he and his quarterback have not lost touch with each other during the previous week and months.
"There has been communication," McCarthy confirmed. "This is the way these business situations go sometimes and [I] respect that. I have confidence that it will work out."
In an off-season full of things that he can't control, McCarthy is focused on preparing his team for what's to come and establishing contingency plans for any additional curve balls that come his way. For now, his recently-signed backup quarterback, Andy Dalton, has been eagerly trying to learn the systems of his new team, and McCarthy has only good news to report to that end.
"I'm very impressed with [Dalton's] knowledge base," McCarthy said. "He asks great questions. From the time I've spent in the quarterback meetings, I'm glad he's part of our football team."