Cowboys Insider: Jerry Jones wrong to blame Dak Prescott’s contract for Dallas talent issues

Owner Jerry Jones and vice president Stephen Jones have stated on more than one occasion that they want Dak Prescott as the Dallas Cowboys quarterback for years to come.

Stephen Jones said another 10 years.

Jerry Jones said years.

And Prescott has acknowledged that it’s his dream to “a Cowboy for life.”

This is the backdrop for all the talk about the Cowboys possibly putting a contract extension for Prescott on their to-do list this off season just two years after signing him to a four-year, $160 million deal.

With Prescott not going anywhere and with his contract having cap hits of $49 million and $52 million in 2023 and 2024, it’s prudent for the Cowboys to sign him to an extension to clear cap room to sign other players.

Now that the pleasantries are out of the way … let the blame games begin.

And Jerry Jones and the Cowboys have already fired the first shot at Prescott in the looming talks for a new contract.

Jones fully understands the continuing quarterback market in only going to go up — witnessed by New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones recently getting the same four-year, $160 million that Prescott got even though he has thrown just 36 touchdown passes to 22 interceptions the past three years combined.

Jones attempted to curry by public favor and sentiment by suggesting that Prescott take less money on his next deal.

Remember the “Zeke who” comment by Jones during the tense negotiations with running back Ezekiel Elliott in 20219?

Consider his words at the NFL scouting combine last week when he essentially blamed Prescott’s contract for holes in the Cowboys roster.

“We want to get all the help around him, but … when you have a competitive-paid quarterback in the NFL, then you’re not going to be able to get the most skill around,” Jones said. “You’re going to have to pick your spots, and you’re going to be a little slower one year than the next …”

It’s a been a common mantra for Jones since the start of last season when the Cowboys went into 2022 with a lesser roster than they ended the season with in 2021, thanks in part to the decision to trade receiver Amari Cooper.

“The more you pay the quarterback, the teams that pay the big ticket on the quarterback, they have to sacrifice other places,” Jones said last September. “The facts are there’s no free lunch. Every dollar you spend on a player is a dollar you can’t spend someplace else.”

Jones continued that theme in Indianapolis.

Jones, however, went too far by saying it is difficult to support Prescott with the type of supporting cast he had early in his NFL career because he is on second contract. It’s his justification on why the Cowboys are not big players in free agency to add quality talent to the roster.

“Well, when you do what you do today and invest in a quarterback the way you do with these premium quarterbacks, that automatically has to be diminished,” Jones said. “And so, when you ask me the supporting cast around him, it’ll hard to get to a supporting cast the way he did when he started his career.”

“You can’t pay that position at that level, take that much of the available dollars and then put the exact thing around him,” Jones said. “When Dak first got here, we had one of the best offensive lines, in my mind, that had been put on the field in a long time. And he had that. So we had skill around him, especially offensively.”

Since Jones likes to use southern colloquialisms, lets separate to the wheat from the chaff here and get to the truth.

Consider that the Cowboys haven’t been major players in free agency with a big money addition since signing cornerback Brandon Carr to a 5-year, $50 million contract in 2012, four years before Prescott arrived as a rookie in 2016.

And when the Cowboys had Prescott on a low-budget rookie deal, they did nothing to add to the roster.

Prescott’s cap numbers reflected .3 percent of the cap in 2016, .4 in 2017, .4 in 2018 and 1.1 in 2019 before ballooning to 14.4 in 2020 when he played on the franchise tag of $31.4 million after the Cowboys failed to sign him to a long-term extension.

Of course, this was a year after they gave a 6-year, $90 million extension to Elliott and signed linebacker Jaylon Smith and right tackle La’el Collins to big-money extensions that they would later regret.

Prescott’s contract had nothing to do with bad decisions made by the front office.

And then there is the matter of signing Prescott to market-value extension. His cap hits were a palatable 8.2 and 8.9 percent in 2021 and 2022, respectively.

Yet, the Cowboys again, did nothing to add to the talent base. More disappointingly, they entered 2022 with less talent.

You can draw a straight line from the latter to the problems Prescott had with a league-leading 15 interceptions in 2022. He simply was trying to do too much to make for talent deficiencies on the Cowboys roster.

He took too many chances. He was being too aggressive.

But now Prescott is supposed to believe that if takes less money on the next extension, the team will put more talent around him by becoming players in free agency.

There is no question the Cowboys believe in Prescott. Jerry Jones compared him to seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady in being able to continue to improve as he gets older.

But one reason why Brady left New England bolted to Tampa Bay at the end of his career is because he got tired of the Patriots taking advantage of his generosity of playing on lesser deals but not adding premium talent around him.

Prescott should respond to the Cowboys dare by asking Jerry Jones to jump first.

Sign somebody. Trade for somebody. Receivers like Odell Beckham and DeAndre Hopkins are available and out there for the taking.

You can show me better than you can tell me.