FRISCO, Texas – It feels like the obvious questions can get lost in the shuffle sometimes.
That feels like the case when it comes to Dak Prescott's contract – or the lack thereof. For the better part of two years, both the Cowboys and their star quarterback have expressed their hope and desire that a long-term agreement is reached.
And yet, despite all that goodwill, Prescott is about to open his 2020 season on the franchise tag, having failed to sign a new contract for two consecutive offseasons.
Which begs the direct question: why is that, exactly?
Cowboys chief operating officer Stephen Jones appeared on 105.3 FM The Fan in Dallas on Friday afternoon, and he was asked exactly that.
"It's so difficult for us, even," Jones said with a laugh. "As you know, we've never not gotten a player signed that we wanted to get signed."
It stands to reason that Prescott's deal is a bigger deal than many of the contracts the Cowboys have worked on over the years. Jones acknowledged that, as a quarterback, it's a much more sizable percentage of the salary cap. Combine that with the team's desire to surround Prescott with a talented cast, and it's a lot to consider.
"I don't think he would ever question our will and our want to surround him with great players," Jones said. "We picked CeeDee Lamb with the first pick in the draft, and we're loading him up to be as successful as he could possibly be."
There's more to this story, though, and Jones was transparent enough to get into some of it.
For starters, it's common knowledge that Prescott has felt comfortable betting on himself in this situation. The Cowboys have put multiple offers in front of him in recent years, and Prescott had the courage to spurn current offerings in favor of a big payout.
The ongoing effects of COVID-19 will play a sizable role in how that works out, but Jones even admitted that Prescott's gamble seems to be paying off.
"We'll see what happens with the cap and how the virus affects our revenues for the upcoming couple of years," he said. "But in general, barring something like that where we really continue to struggle from a revenue standpoint of no fans and reduced revenue, then that could affect his situation. But other than that, he's bet on himself and bet wisely. He's answered every bell, every call."
In a rare bit of insight into the negotiation process, Jones even touched on the subject of contract length. It's been reported for months that the main hang-up between the Cowboys and Prescott was the number of years on the deal.
Not only did Jones confirm that, but he explained the rationale from both sides of the table.
"It's more principle-type situations on length of term. I think everybody's got their hands around, that's the problem," he said. "Obviously, we want a longer term deal because we can spread the money out over more years and give us more room under the salary cap so we can keep this young team, these young players we have in and around Dak. At the same time, he wants a shorter term deal because he sees how successful the league has been. The sooner you come up for contract, the sooner you'll get a bigger raise."
Therein lies the sticking point the two sides just couldn't get past. And now, Prescott will play out this $31.4 million franchise tender before the two sides can meet again.
It doesn't sound like there are any hard feelings on either side of the negotiation. But, as Prescott embarks on a new season, both sides seem to be well aware that the price is moving up.
"I have nothing but respect for where he's been, and up to this point I don't think it's really hurt anybody," Jones said. "He's obviously going to make a lot of money this year, and we all know he's going to make a whole lot more money in the future. Certainly, we want it to be right here in Dallas."