Deal or no deal? Cowboys QB Dak Prescott addresses uncertain future in Dallas

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott admits that his party line sounds cliché.

How could he not be frustrated a multi-year deal with the Cowboys failed to materialize before this year’s July 15 deadline?

How can he fully focus on the season when his future, albeit rich this year, is uncertain?

But Prescott thinks back to growing up in poverty in Haughton, Louisiana. He thinks back to the starting quarterback jobs he won in high school, college and the NFL when the man ahead of him suffered an injury and Prescott rose to the occasion so well he never ceded the jobs.

Prescott thinks to the mother he lost to colon cancer in 2013. To the brother, Jace, whom he lost at 31 years old in April. The anxiety Prescott has battled during the pandemic.

Compartmentalization has become as natural as throwing the football to the 27-year-old, fifth-year pro.

“I can’t look at tomorrow without taking care of today,” Prescott said Wednesday. “That’s the way I’ve been throughout my life. That’s the way I have to be.

“With things that have happened to me personally, with the place this world is in, with the crisis we’re in with COVID, with social injustice: I don’t look too far ahead. I think you can get in trouble and get derailed when you do that. I’m blessed to be a Dallas Cowboy and thankful. This is where I want to be.”

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Dak Prescott threw for a career-high 4,902 yards and 30 TDs last season. (Photo: Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY Sports)

Cowboys leadership similarly maintained Wednesday that Prescott remains the future of the franchise. Vice president Stephen Jones insisted he had a “great visit” with his quarterback before the tag deadline, that he’s “more convinced than ever” the deal will get done. Not to mention Prescott is convicted and confident in his ability to be that player, Jones said.

“He’s so fired up about this season and about our future. We ultimately know that we’re going to have to figure out how to get this done.”

Prescott has started every game for Dallas since 2016, winning 40 and one playoff game while earning two Pro Bowl berths. He’s completed 65.8 percent of his passes, throwing for 15,778 yards and 97 touchdowns to 36 interceptions since the Cowboys selected him in the fourth round. Add 21 rushing touchdowns to Prescott’s impact. And a leadership presence teammates don’t question.

“Dak is outstanding,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. “We think he’s our quarterback of the future. We just couldn’t get together at this particular point.”

Just two quarterbacks have played a season on the franchise tag since the mechanism was created in 1993, the same year Prescott was born. Drew Brees ultimately left the Chargers, and Kirk Cousins signed with the Vikings after playing two tags for Washington. Prescott's circumstances as the unquestioned starter entering his tag differ. Still, Prescott would be the first quarterback to play on the tag and then sign a long-term extension with the same franchise.

Prescott asserted that his brother's death didn't impede negotiations. "It would be crazy to say" the grief weighed too heavy on him to make life decisions, he said.

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott lost 31-year-old brother, Jace, in April.

Dak: “I have the obligation to live on and carry on another legacy. So now it’s not just my mother, it’s my brother as well. I will continue to do that in every walk of my life.” pic.twitter.com/6MGbQ4qqUl

But he wanted a deal no longer than four years while the Cowboys sought at least five for cap flexibility. They diverged, too, on contract structure and guarantees. Jerry Jones said the pandemic economy played a role in the stalemate.

“This was just a less-than-stable time to be talking about serious, serious — generational, if you will use Dak’s term — dollars in an unknown period of time,” Jerry Jones said. “That certainly was one of the issues.”

Prescott said his desire to play for the Cowboys hasn’t changed. He grew up rooting for Dallas, and has played for just one franchise to this point in his career. He likes his North Texas neighborhood, even commissioning a full football field built in his backyard this summer.

He likes his teammates, too, crediting their egoless personalities Wednesday as he discussed the embarrassment of riches at his disposal that includes Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, rookie CeeDee Lamb and running back Ezekiel Elliott. Add in positive first impressions of head coach Mike McCarthy, whom Prescott praised as genuine.

“I’ve got dreams of being a Dallas Cowboy 'til I’m done throwing the football,” Prescott said.

So for now, Prescott’s focused on mastering his 2020 playbook and skill set. He’s already relocated to the Omni Hotel adjacent to the Cowboys’ practice facility at The Star. He’s “excited as hell” to be a Cowboy and he’s capitalizing on the platform afforded to the quarterback of "America’s Team" to pursue social justice goals. 

Cowboys have made rooms available for players at the Omni Frisco, source confirms to @usatodaysports. A training-camp bubble option. Players were given choice upon arriving to camp. Team will cover cost.

Omni overlooks the Ford Center, which houses Cowboys’ indoor practice field pic.twitter.com/s31GrNLFBz

He’s fired up, as Stephen Jones said. Just don’t credit that fire to proving he’s worth the long-term contract he failed to secure this offseason.

“My fire is burning and my fire is big,” Prescott said. “You can throw whatever you want in there for it to burn and for it to get bigger. I don’t know if I’m necessarily trying to prove something to the Cowboys or to this team, because I feel like everybody in this building, this organization knows the player I am, knows the man that I am, knows where my heart stands.

“I just want to be great. And that’s what I do each and every day is just try to come in here and do the best that I can to take another step to being that.”

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.

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