Jerry Jones: 'No Question' Cowboys' Dak Prescott in the Top Level of Paid QBs

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistAugust 18, 2019

HONOLULU, HAWAII - AUGUST 17: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys reads the Los Angeles Rams defense during the preseason game at Aloha Stadium on August 17, 2019 in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told reporters after Saturday's 14-10 preseason win against the Los Angeles Rams that Dak Prescott deserves to be paid like a top-tier quarterback:

Jon Machota @jonmachota

Jerry Jones on Dak Prescott: “I don’t think there’s any doubt that he’s in the top level of the paid quarterbacks. There’s no question in my mind about that.” https://t.co/UeMFOF1MyV

That would have Prescott average in the vicinity of $30 million per year on his next contract. According to Spotrac, the top five quarterbacks in average salary are Russell Wilson ($35 million), Ben Roethlisberger ($34 million), Aaron Rodgers ($33.5 million), Carson Wentz ($32 million) and Matt Ryan ($30 million).

For Prescott to be paid like a top-tier quarterback, the Cowboys will also have to guarantee a huge portion of his contract. Wentz ($107.9 million), Wilson ($107 million), Ryan ($100 million), Rodgers ($98.7 million) and Matthew Stafford ($92 million) all had massive guaranteed money included in their contracts.

The issue the Cowboys face is that star running back Ezekiel Elliott is holding out, seeking a long-term contract extension, while wideout Amari Cooper will also be a free agent after the 2019 season.

Further, the Cowboys inked defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence to a massive five-year, $105 million deal this offseason and will have to pay big bucks if they want to keep linebacker Jaylon Smith, who will be a restricted free agent after the season.

Keeping all of those players at their expected price points will be difficult. Prescott will obviously be a priority, as franchise quarterbacks don't grow on trees. But it is fair to question if he is in the same tier as the NFL's elite quarterbacks from a production and talent standpoint.

Last season, he threw for 3,885 yards (15th in the NFL), 22 touchdowns (16th) and eight interceptions, completing 67.7 percent of his passes. He led the Cowboys to their second playoff appearance in the past three seasons, beating the Seattle Seahawks in the Wild Card Round before losing to the Rams the next week.

Prescott is now 1-2 in the postseason.

His numbers are solid, but the Cowboys offense in recent seasons has been built around Elliott and an excellent offensive line. To Prescott's credit, the Cowboys didn't exactly surround him with elite talent at wideout until acquiring Cooper last season, and with Cooper in town, Prescott thrived.

In seven games before Cooper's arrival, Prescott threw for eight touchdowns, or around 1.1 per game. After his arrival, that number increased to 14 touchdowns over the past nine games, or nearly 1.6 per game. He also averaged 202.4 passing yards per game before Cooper's arrival and 274.2 passing yards per game after.

That connection is a key one for the Cowboys going forward. It will also be an expensive one to keep.