No, the Cowboys wouldn’t be totally nuts to consider Dak Prescott vs. Tom Brady
DALLAS — The NFL’s long offseason allows time for a lot of crazy discussions. There’s only so much the XFL can do to satisfy our needs (although I really DO like those Vipers helmets and I believe Bob Stoops’ Renegades will put at least one touchdown on the board in LA on Sunday).
Debating whether Tom Brady or Dak Prescott should play for Dallas next season is far from the craziest way to spend one’s time. Normally, these types of questions are insane. Quality quarterbacks simply aren’t allowed to change teams on their own terms. League rules provide the means for the Packers to keep Aaron Rodgers in green and gold for life, and the same is true for so many others.
And yet here we are approaching the spring of 2020 and the unrestricted free-agent list of quarterbacks includes Brady, Prescott, Drew Brees, Jameis Winston, Philip Rivers, Ryan Tannehill, Marcus Mariota and more. Now I think the way to bet is that the Cowboys place the franchise tag on Prescott in less than a month if they cannot come to terms on a longer contract. I suspect Dallas will offer him the most money in the history of the league — perhaps a seven- or eight-year deal that averages more than $35 million — but I’m not sure Prescott’s agents will accept a deal that long (contract length does not favor players in the NFL).
So that brings us to why a consideration of Brady or Prescott is not absolutely nuts. Gone are the days that Prescott led this team as a fourth-round bargain. His future play will come at a great cost under terms of the league’s salary cap. That being the case, should the Cowboys have a sensible discussion of their options rather than simply conceding that Prescott holds all the cards and giving in at the negotiating table, as is their custom?
In other words, if you think Brady has enough left, that he’s as good as or better than Prescott for two more years … why not kick the tires?
From those who have already entered this discussion, I’m surprised at the number of people who side with Brady as the better option. Take the money and the contracts out of the equation and pretend it’s no more than a choice, a quarterback competition staged at Oxnard (although that’s not what would happen in reality).
Do you think Tom at 43 would beat out Dak?
I do not.
I’m acutely aware of Brady’s accomplishments and the fact he won a Super Bowl at 41 and had a team rolling along at 11-0 last year as a 42-year-old. Some folks believe that means Brady’s not really in decline although the numbers and, yes, the eyeballs say he clearly is doing exactly that.
In basic passer rating numbers, Prescott finished far ahead of Brady in 2019. In the more sophisticated Next Gen Stats world, Prescott did likewise. Dak finished third in average completion distance (7.6 yards). Tom checked down and checked in at 24th, at 5.6. In terms of throwing the ball into tight windows — aggressiveness percentage — Dak was 14th and Tom was 26th.
Now, there’s a real argument on Brady’s side regarding his offensive surroundings. Although Josh McDaniels is as creative as coordinators get, Julian Edelman crossing routes are pretty much the driving force of the New England offense in the post-Gronk era. There’s little doubt Prescott has better offensive personnel around him, so that would theoretically enhance Brady’s numbers in Dallas.
There’s also no question New England had a better defense than Dallas by a considerable stretch in 2019. Although the Patriots scored plenty of points early in the year, they also won games by scores of 24-17, 16-10, 17-10 and 13-9 (Dallas fans remember the last one). While the Cowboys went 8-8, they never won a game in which they scored fewer than 31 points.
If you believe Prescott is continuing to grow as a passer and leader, I can’t imagine rolling the dice for a brief run with Brady and then forcing your team back into the Quarterback Search business in 2022. It’s not logical.
But if you truly believe Brady gives your team a better chance to win and your organization has gone 24 seasons without a trip to a conference title game, then I’m not sure how this topic doesn’t get discussed.
Placing the franchise tag on Prescott is the simplest and easiest solution although it probably means your quarterback does not show up for offseason practices and also means the Cowboys’ salary cap number at the quarterback position — lowest in the league in 2019 — will jump at least $25 million.
So even simplest and easiest are ill-fitting words in anything regarding Dak Prescott and the Cowboys’ future. And given that the owner/general manager places the business of making headlines right alongside that of winning, who can say with certainty that any of this is silly at all?