Considering that both the Cowboys and franchise cornerstone Dak Prescott had ample reason to get a new deal done, the fact that they walked away from the negotiating table without one speaks volumes of their inability — or, to be more precise, refusal — to make compromises en route. Not that they didn’t have cause to stand their respective grounds. After having plied his trade on a rookie scale through the last four seasons, the quarterback was rightly moved by the need to maximize his earning capacity moving forward. Meanwhile, the team felt compelled to stick to how it traditionally does business, its asset’s current value and future importance notwithstanding.

Make no mistake. Prescott wants to stay with the Cowboys; he knows he’s not likely to get better weapons on which to build a legitimate Super Bowl campaign than those he already has around him. Meanwhile, the blue and white understand full well how much more competitive he makes them; as a now-proven talent they not coincidentally settled on (and were, therefore, fortunate to claim in the fourth round of the 2016 draft), he brings stability to the most important position in the sport. Predecessor Tony Romo‘s brighter upside was blunted by frequent bouts with injury; in contrast, his relative durability makes him a lower-risk-but-still-high-potential stalwart.

Moreover, fairness dictates that Prescott be compared to his contemporaries and not with ghosts of Cowboys past. And, in this regard, conventional wisdom points to him deserving of the big payday he sought. He’s certainly better than the likes of Joe Flacco, Matthew Stafford, and Kirk Cousins, who all got significant deals while he cashed paychecks totaling $2.72 million over the last four years. To be sure, the $31.4-million bounty he will be receiving this year as a franchise tag is nothing to scoff at. That said, it also opens him up to uncertainty heading into the next offseason. Even assuming he remains free of career-threatening ailments, the depressed salary cap under a new normal is certain to affect the next round of contract talks.

If nothing else, the development highlights the Cowboys’ conservative stance. They’d rather wait and see than latch on to a sure thing. Perhaps they’re right to do so in light of the pandemic. Then again, perhaps they’re not; they’ll be doing the dance anew with Prescott next year, and, at this point, there is hardly any information to support the contention that they’ll have the steps down pat by then. If anything, there’s an argument to be made that conditions will be worse; he will be worth more, and, with less revenues in the pipeline, would need to be inked under a more restrictive regime.

What’s done is done, though, and Prescott and the Cowboys will have to make the most of the cards they’ve been dealt. They’re certainly good enough to vie for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. And who knows? They may yet prove to be more magnanimous in victory, or, barring that, with experience.


Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and Human Resources management, corporate communications, and business development.