The Dallas Cowboys and quarterback Dak Prescott remain in a stalemate in long-term contract talks, to the point it's possible they'll fail to reach a deal by the July deadline.
"There's been a bit a lull in negotiations with the Cowboys, so both sides continue to talk this up," ESPN's Jeremy Fowler said Sunday on SportsCenter. "But I'm told they should be ready for anything, including the possibility of pressing up against that July 15 deadline for the franchise tag. There's a few obstacles in play, including number of years. The Cowboys like to go longer term—five, six, seven years on their deals. Prescott wants more flexibility on that, and so it's been steady, but it's been very slow on that front."
If the Cowboys and Prescott do not reach a long-term contract by July 15, he will have to play the 2020 season on the franchise tag. The two sides have been negotiating a long-term deal for more than a year, with the slow-play of the process having some call into question Prescott's status as the face of the franchise.
Cowboys Executive Vice President Stephen Jones told Pro Football Talk:
"I know at the end of the day everybody is out there [saying], 'How have you not paid Dak?' At the same time, Dak has to, we've tried to pay him, and he has to accept what we want to pay him. But the deal has to be right for Dak. It has to be right for us.
"The salary cap makes this a zero-sum game for owners. This is not something where Jerry and myself are trying to save money so the Cowboys can make more money for the Jones family. We're just trying to do our very best, working with Mike [McCarthy], working with Will McClay to really divide up the pie the best way possible to win a Super Bowl.
"There's all sorts of analytics out there that show if your quarterback takes up too big a percentage of your salary cap that it decreases your chances to win. We're just trying to figure out the right fit."
The quote from Jones is odd on several levels. First, the evidence shows there is no real correlation between on-field success and what a quarterback makes. The margin for error elsewhere may be smaller, but that's the case for all positions—not just quarterback.
Making the statement stranger is that the Cowboys paid Ezekiel Elliott, who plays a position where stars are regularly found in the bargain bin. Elliott's $90 million contract was nearly $40 million more than any other back in the NFL until Christian McCaffrey signed his new $64 million extension. If the Cowboys were going to play the tag game with any of their stars, it would have made more sense for it to have been with Elliott than with Prescott.
Instead, they may be setting themselves up for a Kirk Cousins-Washington redux.