ARLINGTON, Texas– The Cowboys begin their voluntary offseason program on Monday – the first step toward building on their 13-win season from 2016.
As the team's starting quarterback, Dak Prescott knows the work that lies ahead – and he appreciates what Tony Romo gave to the organization in that prominent role for a full decade.
Asked his thoughts about Romo's April 4 release from the organization and his new broadcasting career as CBS's new NFL lead analyst, Prescott once again had positive comments about his former teammate.
"Me and Tony, we've always been great throughout this whole situation, before the situation when I came in (as the starter)," Prescott said Saturday in Arlington at 105.3 The Fan's annual MudBug Bash. "So nothing's ever changed. That's something I'm very thankful were able to manage of keeping our relationship the same throughout everything that was going on.
"I hope he's happy. He made the decision to retire; he's had a great career. He's got some big shoes for me to fill to try to come in and do a good job for the Cowboys."
Prescott's off to a good start.
Relatively unheralded last spring as a fourth-round pick out of Mississippi State, he moved into the starting lineup amid injuries to Romo and Kellen Moore and kept the job all season, leading the Cowboys to the NFC's best record as AP Offensive Rookie of the Year Award with a remarkable 104.9 passer rating.
Much was made of the dynamic between Prescott, the 23-year-old steal of the draft, and Romo, the franchise's all-time passing yardage leader who settled into a backup role for the first time since the start of the 2006 season.
Yet head coach Jason Garrett has praised both men for handling the situation with class and professionalism all season long, particularly after Prescott remained the starter when Romo recovered from a preseason back fracture.
Prescott was asked Saturday if Romo's decision to step away from football two weeks ago surprised him.
"I don't know; I can't say I was surprised," Prescott said. "He's got to take care of himself. He's had some injuries throughout his career. I just hope it's what he wanted to do.
"I know he's still got some football left in him if he had that in mind. Obviously watching him throughout this year, learning a bunch from him, learning just different ways to throw the ball, he's a great player and he's a heck of a competitor, no matter what it is."
Now Prescott's focus is improving his skills and helping the Cowboys progress after what he calls "a hundred percent bittersweet" 2016 season: a franchise-record tying 13 wins, followed by a second-round playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers.
"There were some great things about (the season)," he said. "But knowing my position, knowing this organization, it's all about the last game of the season, whether you come out a winner or come out a loser, and we lost – it's as simple as that.
"There's a lot for us to grow on. We've got to figure out how to win that game, win those playoff games, win the games that are close, so we can win championships and we can do great things for long times to come."