LAS VEGAS - Dallas Cowboys management seems to be using "leaks'' and "hints'' to create the groundwork for not forging a long-term big-money extension for quarterback Dak Prescott, while at the same time insisting that "America's Team'' is "all in'' for making a Super Bowl run in 2024. ...
And we are struggling to understand how the two concepts mesh.
Conventional wisdom - and the original plan with Prescott's contract, which features the infamous $59 million cap hit for 2024 - states that a contract extension is coming by March 13 (the start of the NFL business year and the date that cap compliance is required).
Has the Jerry Jones-led "wisdom'' changed? Has the front office plan changed?
Two stories released during Super Bowl Week - label them "hints'' or "leaks'' or whatever you wish - seem intended to suggest that possibility.
First came a story in the Dallas News that featured the technically-true factoid that Prescott hasn't played in a conference championship, with a headline that some found misleadingly outrageous as it suggested that makes him inferior to the likes of Blake Bortles and Ryan Tannehill.
That headline: "Bortles, Tannehill and the list of NFL QBs with higher playoff success than Dak Prescott''
What is the reason for that story, given the timing? We must say, for all of the criticism directed Prescott's way, much of it fairly, we've never once looked at it through a prism that portrayed Dak Prescott as being inferior as a player to Blake Bortles.
Then came a story from ESPN that, as it the outlet's custom, was delivered in its usual "Saturday gossip style.'' In this paywall piece, two national writers opine, "We shouldn't assume the Dallas Cowboys will agree on a contract extension before the start of the 2024 season.''
The story otherwise breaks no new ground, simply mentioning how Dak has a no-trade clause and a no-tag clause, sidebars issues of which Cowboys Nation is well-aware.
But don't be fooled; if the Cowboys - so very incentivized by cap realities - end up stuck with the existing cap hit, it will mean negotiations between now and March 13 failed. And it will mean a lack of shared faith between player and team.
And that should not be construed as "all in'' for anybody involved. Not Jerry Jones. And not Dak Prescott.
Leaving the contract as is is an option, and doing so is worthy of debate. Dallas could in theory field a good roster in 2024 with Dak's deal eating up $59 million of room. But the roster would obviously have a chance to be better if Dak is extended with his money spread out in a way that opens up $20 million of room.
In that sense, choosing to not extend Dak and to roll the dice on him as a final-contractual-year QB in 2024, the hints and the leaks remind us, is "a move.''
But Cowboys Nation should not be fooled into thinking it's an "all-in'' move when in fact it is exactly the opposite of that.