'Easy Money': Showdown in Dallas
Never were two words more apropos for a situation in a football game than when television
microphones caught Baltimore Ravens OT Orlando Brown saying them late in last week’s
game against the Dallas Cowboys. The Ravens were in the process of a dominating
performance against the opponent formerly known as America’s Team.
Brown’s use of “easy money” aptly described what most of Dallas’ opponents have
thought all year, but have not said publicly. Those 294 rushing yards allowed by the
Cowboys defense vs. Baltimore was just another example of what really has become a
weekly referendum on the state of the Cowboys organization. It’s been an organizational
failure in 2020. Hearing it, by an opposing player on national TV, just underlined it once
again for us all.
There is plenty of blame to go around, but that is not the purpose of my writing this column.
I really think what is important is how structure and culture matter when managing a football team. So many disconnects have happened with the Cowboys recently. The problems
begin with the coaching staff and the evaluation of players on the personnel side and then
continue with the actual build of this team, roster-wise. To be fair, Injuries have also been
part of the deal and the Cowboys have been hit harder than most.
I would have to lay fully prone on the couch in my office and talk all day in clinical fashion to
fully address all the angles and topics that have lead the Cowboys to this point. AND NOW,
being flexed off a Sunday night game by NBC next week is another public rebuke. In any
other year, the networks cannot get enough of this circus. However, in keeping with all that
is 2020, that one move of taking the Cowboys off Sunday’s premier game speaks loudly.
The Cowboys need to come to the realization that they are anything but “prime time”
I am sure SOME change will come. The only question that remains over this team’s final
four games in 2020 is “how much” owner Jerry Jones is willing to bite off? I have no doubt
Jerry wants to win. He is as competitive and supportive as any owner in football and well
respected too. But, this question is flashing now and brighter than ever. Is he willing to
change his own structure/process of how he puts this team together and how will he
manage it going forward? We all know that old definition of insanity, right?
The Cowboys’ results this year should indicate to both NFL insiders and fans that a total
overhaul is a necessary option. However, there is one guy whom this should matter most.
He is the same guy who Cowboys fans go to when their team is discussed. He has an
answer more times than not, and he has earned league-wide respect both on and off the
field. I realize he has not done anything to contribute to the dumpster fire this year’s team
has become and, like he always does, he’s taken the high road. Yep, you guessed
it, injured QB Dak Prescott.
With what has happened to the Cowboys over the last eight weeks, Prescott’s value has
skyrocketed like no other. They now need him more than ever, however, it’s just not that
simple. In my opinion, Prescott is the only person who can hold owner Jerry Jones
accountable and demand that changes are ample enough to give his career a chance. He
eventually gets to decide if he wants to be part of this team OR NOT. Put yourself in his
shoes and ask how can Dak re-sign up with this team without having faith the organization
will do the things necessary to fix the problems?
Money aside, in order to fulfill his goals and dreams, Prescott needs to be with a
winner. He’s going to recover from the injury he sustained in 2020 and he will have the best
doctors and best rehab plan available. His work ethic is without question. Teams will do
their homework. Prescott should have a number of suitors outside of Dallas, should it ever
get to that point.
One can’t resort to the fact that for $35M a year, Prescott should be happy. The minute his
current contract expires, he will be offered north of that figure from several teams. There is
much more to it than that. And, if the Cowboys decide to franchise him again at $37.8M in a
year where the total cap is only $175M, it’s going to make it very, very, very, very hard to
put a quality product on the field with what cap space is available.
A significant portion of that “available” cap space is already committed to other players
currently on the team. The Cowboys can talk about being willing to use the franchise tag
again, but in doing so, it will really restrict any other moves to better this team. It’s a tough
spot that they have put themselves in. In order to persuade Dak to help lower the team’s
cap number, he first has to sign a new deal. The fact of the matter, however, is it’s his
prerogative or not.
By still being unsigned, Dak has leverage. He has some cards to play, but it’s really up to
him and his agent to see how and when he chooses to play them. All Cowboy fans have
their fingers crossed.