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Stephen Jones: Dak Is Top Offseason Priority


MOBILE, Ala. – With the countdown to Super Bowl LIV officially on, it's hard not to think of the new developments 2020 could bring for the NFL's quarterback market – and therefore the Cowboys.

Regardless of whether the Kansas City Chiefs win the league championship or not, Patrick Mahomes will finish his third NFL season when the clock hits zero in Miami in two weeks. Per the the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement, that means he can soon begin negotiating his second contract.

It promises to be a big number.

That's not lost on the Cowboys' front office, who have their own quarterback negotiation to sort out. Dak Prescott has been eligible to sign an extension for a full year, and his rookie contract will officially expire in less than two months.

Perhaps that's why, asked about it Tuesday at the Senior Bowl, Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones didn't need to hear about anyone else's negotiations to feel a sense of urgency.

"It's been urgent for us. We certainly want to get that done," Jones said. "That's our No. 1 priority as we go into the offseason – to get his contract, find some resolution to it and get it done."

This should all sound familiar by now. The Cowboys have been trying to resolve Prescott's contract situation for the better part of the last year. It seemed for all the world that they'd lock him down prior to the start of the 2019 season, but the two sides couldn't get close enough on an agreement.

It's interesting to note how other NFL stars like Mahomes and Houston's Deshaun Watson could impact the situation, though. Drafted one year after Prescott, the duo has taken the league by storm and is in line to be the next pair of highly-paid NFL quarterbacks.

Mahomes in particular looks poised to reset the quarterback market, as he has thrown 76 touchdowns, won the NFL MVP and guided his team to a Super Bowl appearance after just two seasons as the Chiefs' starter.

However much arguing there might be about the biggest quarterback salaries in the NFL, the number only figures to go up when Mahomes eventually re-signs – whenever that might actually be.

From the Cowboys' end, the next six weeks could be telling. They have from Feb. 25 until March 10 to use their franchise and transition tags. If they were to franchise tag Prescott, it would cost them about $33 million and could set the stage for another lengthy bout of negotiations.

With roughly $80 million in cap space for 2020, Jones said the Cowboys shouldn't be worried about doing that if they need to.

"We'd work around that," he said.

It certainly doesn't seem like a matter of debate. The Cowboys intend for Prescott to be part of their long-term future. But the efficiency with which they figure that out could go a long way in determining how much it costs them.