The Dallas Cowboys have plenty of questions to answer before the 2021 season begins. For many, the focus is the defensive side of the ball, and rightfully so after the Cowboys had arguably the worst defense in team history in 2020 that gave up a franchise-record 473 points.
Even with all the holes to fill defensively, the biggest elephant in the room when it comes to America's Team is the long-term contract of Dak Prescott. Cowboys legend and Hall of Famer Michael Irvin has always been one to be outspoken about his former team. Irvin joined Shan and RJ on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM] last week to discuss the Cowboy's offseason priorities, and Prescott was all he focused on.
“The No. 1 priority should be Dak, that’s no doubt,” Irvin said. “Then No. 2, should be Prescott. Then No. 3 should be Dakota. No. 4 should be Rayne. That’s all I want to hear. Understand what I’m saying? That’s it. That’s all I want to hear. I don’t care about all this other stuff. Then, after we get through Dak, Dakota, Rayne, and Prescott then we will get to defense. Dak is the first four all by himself.”
This isn't the first time Irvin has campaigned for Prescott to be taken care of. According to the Dallas Morning News, he spoke last summer about how the Cowboys not only needed to extend Prescott but they owed him “back pay” after he only made around $4 million in his first four years.
“Dak has done everything, and he has won,” Irvin said. “He has won a lot of football games in his first four years. So to say he doesn't deserve the money isn't totally correct. He does deserve the money … Dak has been not great, but perfect. Not necessarily in wins and losses, of course. But I'm talking about just the person that he's been. The kind of investment you want to make, the kind of guy you say, ‘Yeah, we hit it with this guy. We got him in the fourth round.' You stole four years, so whatever he gets he deserves because you still owe him back pay.”
When the Cowboys lost Prescott in Week 5 to a season-ending ankle injury it dramatically impacted the offense. Their points per game plummeted to 21.1 from 32.6 in the five games Prescott played in. Also, the Cowboys were a dismal 4-7 in his absence.
The Cowboys and Prescott remain adamant that they want to get a deal done. March 9 is the first date to circle which is the deadline to apply the franchise tag. The Cowboys will push to get something done before then but will place the tag on Prescott for the second consecutive season if nothing materializes which will cost them $37.7 million, buying them more time to get a deal done by the July 15 deadline.
That number makes working out a long-term deal for Prescott that much more important with a reduced salary cap in 2021 due to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. The league informed teams on Thursday that the salary cap floor for this season increased from $175 million to $180 million. Once the final 2020 revenue numbers are known the league will inform teams of the set salary cap number for the upcoming year.
Any increase to the salary cap will help the Cowboy's efforts to lock down Prescott for the foreseeable future. The two sides are entering their third round of negotiations since 2019 to get something done.