One of the predictable reactions to the Cowboys signing Quarterback Andy Dalton yesterday was what it meant for their contract talks with Dak Prescott. But while things between Dak and Dallas remain undecided, some are already labeling this as a “holdout” or “stalemate.”
For example, take the comments last night by one former Cowboys player who has some recent experience with the organization:
There's also this recent tweet from a longtime Cowboys reporter. I've seen some fans use this same term recently as well.
In chess, it's game over when there's a stalemate. And we're hardly at that point yet when it comes to Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys.
Yes, it ultimately comes down to the sides having differing opinions on the contract. But the finality that's being expressed lately is a bit hyperbolic.
It's important to remember some other factors at work right now that have likely delayed the proceedings.
1. Coaching Staff Overhaul
The Cowboys replaced nearly every single coach at the beginning of their offseason. This sweeping change required considerable time that our front office couldn't then devote to Dak Prescott's contract.
Remember, we're not talking about a backup punter here. The franchise QB's contract, potentially the richest deal in history, isn't being worked on by anyone's assistant. The Joneses would be intimately involved every step of the way.
But in January they had to deal with hiring Mike McCarthy and all of the subsequent coaching turnover. There's no way it didn't temporarily put Dak Prescott on the back burner.
2. New Collective Bargaining Agreement
Hanging over the talks between Dak and Dallas was the resolution of the NFL's new CBA, which didn't occur until March 15th. The ramifications of the new CBA could have had a significant impact on Prescott's financial future, so it only made sense that both sides would want clarity before finalizing a deal.
Remember, Dallas didn't even know if it would have the use of the franchise tag until the CBA was resolved. Do we really think that they were going to negotiate with Prescott, given the enormity of the financial commitment, without having all of their potential options on the table?
3. Free Agency & 2020 Draft
It was just as the new CBA was agreed upon we entered into the start of free agency. The Cowboys franchised Dak Prescott, using the more expensive “exclusive” tag, and then began focusing on their other needs from the open market.
Dallas used that exclusive tag so that didn't have to deal with Prescott right away. They immediately got to work re-signing Amari Cooper, then started adding new players like Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
Quickly thereafter, it became time to work on the 2020 NFL Draft. Again, Dallas had the luxury of waiting to deal with Prescott because they franchised him.
The draft just ended a week ago, and since then the team's been busy signing undrafted free agents. They also just announced the signing of QB Andy Dalton for the backup job.
So no, the Cowboys haven't just been sitting by the phone waiting for Dak Prescott to call. They've been a little busy.
4. Work disruption/delays due to COVID-19
We can't dismiss the impact of COVID-19 on all activities over the last two months. While free agency and the draft did occur on schedule, the behind-the-scenes work to facilitate them required more time and energy than teams, players, and agents are accustomed to.
Despite their incredible resources, the Dallas Cowboys still have only one each of Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones, and Will McClay. They get the same 24 hours in each day that we do.
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Can I speak with firsthand knowledge about these events and how they impacted the Cowboys and Dak Prescott? Of course not.
Still, logic and common sense lead to a fairly simple deduction. A significant factor in the ongoing talks between Dak and Dallas is that the last few months have presented plenty of valid reasons for delay and distraction.
It is now, with the draft and major free agency behind them, that the two parties can engage in talks without other weighty matters hanging overhead. We've still got almost three months until the start of training camp.
It's too early for panic.