Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Golden: Dak signing represents Jerry's final shot at Super Bowl redemption

Prescott just signed a new four-year contract

Cedric Golden
Austin American-Statesman
  • After suffering season-ending injury in 2020, Prescott is prepping for the 2021 season.
  • Prescott signed a four-year, $160-million contract which includes a $66 million signing bonus.
  • Prescott says his plan to lead the Cowboys to a Super Bowl
  • Dallas hasn't won a Super since the 1995 season

Jerry Jones is in the fourth quarter, and Dak Prescott is more than just the face of his franchise.

Jones realizes he's in his golden years. At 78, the Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager has many more sunsets in the rearview than sunrises ahead. He has experienced a life of luxury and leisure, a self-made man enjoying the fruits of his labor.

Those billions he pocketed from taking the Cowboys from financial stress to a printing press of cash money can buy him most anything on earth.

Except more time.

Prescott represents Jerry’s final shot at glory. When the Cowboys inked the quarterback to a four-year, $160 million deal with a $66 million signing bonus attached this week, it was Jones’ cry to the NFL that he's not prepared to go through another dark period in the wilderness of unproven signal-callers.

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott smiles as team owner Jerry Jones speaks during a news conference at the team's practice facility in Frisco on Wednesday. Prescott has signed a four-year, $160 million contract that includes a $66 million signing bonus.

Jerry is taking his shot, and Prescott is his swing for the fences even if this negotiation took much longer than it should have.

“I knew that Dak wanted to be here and really no place else,” Jones said at Wednesday’s media availability while some wondered why we were looking at another franchise tag coming up, especially at quarterback, the most important position in all of team sports.

If you have a real dude behind center, it can be the difference between mediocrity and making history. Just ask the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who followed a 7-9 season under interception machine Jameis Winston — who threw a league-leading 30 picks in 2019 — with a Super Bowl behind the legendary Tom Brady, who came over from New England to show them the way.

Jones has a franchise quarterback in tow and wants to top off a Hall of Fame NFL career while stacking a few more chips in the process.

Jerry is also in the fourth quarter of his business career. Thirty-two years after buying the Cowboys for $150 million, he has amassed a fortune approaching $9 billion — that’s five times more than Oprah — with more money rolling in by the truckload.

The Cowboys and Dak Prescott have finally agreed on the richest contract in club history, two years after negotiations began with the star quarterback. Prescott and owner/general manager Jerry Jones spoke with the media Wednesday.

According to Forbes, the Cowboys rank as the most valuable sports franchise at an estimated $5.5 billion. That’s ahead of iconic brands such as the New York Yankees ($5 billion), New York Knicks ($4.6 billion) and Los Angeles Lakers ($4.4 billion).

Jerry spent a small fraction of that vault on Prescott, who will average $42 million per year over the first three seasons — second only to Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, who's around $45 million — which is much more than Jones had anticipated paying. Face it: He mucked up the works two years ago when he hemmed and hawed on the issue of length of service; he could have gotten Prescott for around $30 million per season.

It’s not up to us to decide who is worth the exorbitant money being handed out to these quarterbacks, but the market is the market, and Prescott was eventually going to get his Fort Knox somewhere else had Jones not pulled the trigger.

At 27, Prescott represents the fourth quarter of Jerry’s era of quarterbacks. It all started in 1989 when Jones and coach Jimmy Johnson grabbed UCLA’s Troy Aikman with the top overall pick, leading to the most dominant run of titles in franchise history, three Super Bowls in four years starting in 1992.

After concussions forced Aikman to retire in 2000, Dallas went through a carousel of quarterbacks with names such as Randall Cunningham — who was near the end of a great career — and forgettables such as Anthony Wright, Ryan Leaf, Quincy Carter, Clint Stoerner, Chad Hutchinson, an over-the-hill Vinny Testaverde and Drew Henson occupying a space post-Aikman.

Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott's four-year, $160 million contract makes him the second-highest paid player in the NFL behind Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

Six games into the 2006 season, coach Bill Parcells replaced highly regarded veteran Drew Bledsoe with an undrafted free agent from Eastern Illinois — Tony Romo.

In the space from Aikman’s final game in 2000 to Bledsoe’s final start at the end of the 2005 season, the Cowboys went 40-45 and finished third or worse in the NFC East in five of those six seasons.

Under Romo’s leadership, the Cowboys won three division titles but never played in an NFC championship game. Jones never made him wait for a long-term extension but was not rewarded with a return to the game’s biggest stage. With Prescott, he is sliding his poker chips into the middle of the table.

With escalators attached, Dak’s total deal could reach $164 million, which is $14 million more than Jones paid for the entire team back in the day.

Dallas will enter 2021 as the definite NFC East favorite because of Prescott’s well-earned reputation as the most talented quarterback in the division. Much will depend on what the Washington Football Team does after parting ways with Dwyane Haskins last season and veteran Alex Smith this offseason, and how the Cowboys retool that offensive line and improve one of the worst secondaries in the league.

Prescott is still on the mend from the gruesome ankle injury suffered in Week 5 last season and credits Smith — who made it back from one of the worst leg injuries in league history to win the league's Comeback Player of the Year award last season — as an inspiration on the long road back.

“I’m going to beat this,” Prescott said, sitting alongside Jones. “It’s only a matter of time.”

Prescott was sorely missed last season, especially late in games after his clutch gene revealed itself several times in his early career.

If things progress as expected on the rehab front, he will be back under center at crunch time this fall — in what is likely to be Jerry’s final quest to return the Cowboys to an elite level.