FRISCO, Texas — Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott is rehabilitating from a compound fracture and dislocation of his right ankle that he suffered last October, but he is already thinking about next February and Super Bowl LVI.
“That’s my plan, get a parade in Dallas,” Prescott said Wednesday, the day he officially signed the richest deal in Cowboys’ history: four years, $160 million and an NFL-record $66 million signing bonus. “As a competitor, you watch people celebrate, you watch people do what you want to do and there’s not too many more things that light a fire under you than somebody having what you want. And every year we’re not in the playoffs, or we didn’t make that run, that’s just more fire to it.
“You throw on there that I was holding my leg and didn’t have a chance to be out there while guys were doing what was taken away from me, I’m just excited to get out there and show you what this team can do. The next big press conference we have is hopefully in another year after that big parade. So there you go.”
Prescott’s contract has been a story since the 2019 offseason when he was playing on the final year of his rookie contract for $2 million. It dragged on for the 2020 season as he played on the $31.4 million franchise tag and finally culminated on Monday when the team and Prescott’s agent, Todd France, reached an agreement.
It took some time, but to owner and general manager Jerry Jones, it was worth it.
“From the very beginning we have certainly said that our future is with Dak,” Jones said. “We are keenly aware that the process that we’ve done over the last several years has created, if you will, a conversation and maybe even a life of its own. … Don’t confuse that with how right we think this decision is and how much it’s been there from the very beginning. This fits.”
Prescott said he never imagined leaving for another team.
“I’m excited to be here, to never leave, and excited for what this organization, what this team, what the fans are going to get,” Prescott said. “I’m excited just to go do it and just to know that this is my home, I’m not leaving. I’m a Cowboy and this is only the beginning.”
To fulfill his Super Bowl dreams, Prescott still has work to do in his recovery. He has been at The Star in Frisco, Texas, constantly rehabbing and he said he’s progressing fine. Prescott said a second surgery performed in December was more about his long-term ability to play than anything to do with the injury he suffered in the Week 5 win against the New York Giants.
“I’m healthy,” Prescott said. “I’ll control what I can control. I’ll follow the doctor’s orders the whole time. Put my own work ethic into it. I’m healthy, I’m getting close. I’ll be ready when it matters.”
At the time of the injury, there was a four- to six-month recovery period. The Cowboys start their official offseason program in April and Prescott says he plans to take part in everything. He said he will continue his offseason work with John Beck, his quarterback coach at 3DQB.
Prescott, however, acknowledged he needs to be “smarter” in his on-field decision-making, especially when he runs, like when he was hurt vs. the Giants.
“Before the injury, going back to high school, I was told to be smarter on when I want to demonstrate my physicality or when I want to try to make a point in the game or change the momentum. That’s no different. I have to be smarter,” he said. “With this investment, with my health being jeopardized at a certain point, it makes a whole lot more sense to me about being smarter and why people have said that. Back in the day as a young bull, I guess it was very hard to understand. Now, I mean, on a play like that, first down, you’re going down. You’re sliding.
“But to say that the game’s on the line, it’s a first down or it’s the red zone and I’m going there, that’s who I am. I don’t know if I can ever tone that down.”
A large part of the negotiation between the Cowboys and France was the ability to have cap room necessary to add players around Prescott. With two voidable years on the contract, Prescott will count only $22.2 million against the salary cap this season and have the ability to restructure his contract in 2022. That restructure could create up to $15 million in cap room.
On Wednesday, the Cowboys restructured the contracts of offensive linemen Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and La’el Collins, creating roughly $17 million in cap space, according to a source. That puts them under the cap entering next week’s free-agency period and gives them the ability to make some strategic signings, especially for a defense that allowed a franchise-record 473 points in 2020.
“We’ve got the resources to do what we’ve got to do,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said.
But the Cowboys believe Prescott, who is 42-27 as a starter and has one playoff win, will be their centerpiece.
“It’s not as simple as Dak wins, Jerry wins, the Cowboys win,” Jerry Jones said. “Let me tell you one thing: The Cowboys won today. They won today. And I’m excited about this future. And that’s what we’re all interested in — the future.”
At one point during Wednesday’s news conference, the Joneses were asked if they felt they had the best team in the NFC East after re-signing Prescott.
The quarterback interjected with a quick yes.
“I think this partnership says it, right? That ensures their faith in me, and as I’ve said, as a guy that lives by faith, just knowing that you have a family, have an organization that wants you at the forefront, go do it, that’s everything,” Prescott said. “Because I want to give them everything that they want, everything that they invested in. If I manifest it, if I put everything in, it’ll happen on the back hand. I’m just excited to be on the front end of this, and we’ll all be celebrating when it pays off.”