Reports coming out of Cowboys camp on Friday claim that Dak Prescott will be “full go” for Dallas’ season opener against the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 9.
Owner Jerry Jones’ dream of finally lifting his fourth Lombardi trophy, 26 years after the last, edges closer to reality with the knowledge that the NFL’s third highest-paid star in 2021 will take the field in Week 1.
But is Dak all he is cracked up to be? The Cowboys weren’t in perfect shape last season before Dak Prescott was injured. America’s Team was 1-3 heading into Week 5 when the 28-year-old suffered the compound fracture and dislocated right ankle that shut down his season.
But let’s not forget, the 2016 fourth-round draft pick was coming off a career-year before he was sidelined – throwing for a massive 4,902 yards, 30 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in the 2019 season.
What is Dak Prescott capable of in 2021?
Back in March, Dak Prescott received a six-year, $240 million contract that ties him down for the prime of his career, with $126 million guaranteed and a whopping $66 million signing bonus. If Dak Prescott were to win a Super Bowl and play 50% of offensive snaps, he would land a $1 million bonus.
Is he worth it? The short answer is yes. If you believe him to be the superstar that Jones and the Cowboys organization believe he is. That’s the going rate, set by the market, for a franchise quarterback. The contract is such a big commitment to a player coming off a severe injury, there is clearly a huge amount of faith in Dak Prescott’s ability to bounce back and achieve success in the Lone Star State.
Where does that belief come from? Prescott forced a significant moment in franchise history when his outstanding performance in 2016 essentially forced Cowboys icon Tony Romo into retirement.
The rookie Dak Prescott wowed the football world, backing up his performances week after week as Dallas went 13-3, before beating the New York Giants in a wildcard playoff. The Cowboys were then denied an appearance in the NFC Championship game by Aaron Rodgers‘ late heroics as the Green Bay Packers clinched a 34-31 divisional round win with a walk-off, game-winning field goal.
In his debut 2016 season, Dak Prescott threw for 3,667 yards, 23 TDs and 4 INTs, earned Rookie of the Year honors and was selected for the Pro Bowl. But did the first-year pro catch lightning in a bottle?
The transition in year two was fairly smooth, although Dak Prescott did not quite back up his year-one numbers (3324 yards, 22 TDs, 13 INTs). He posted another similarly impressive performance in 2018 to record a third straight winning season (3885 yards, 22 TDs, 8 INTs).
Then something clicked in 2019, the final year of his rookie deal, and Dak Prescott went off. With the team going 8-8, and often forced into a position to fight from behind by Dallas’ porous defense, Dak Prescott put up the best passing figures of his career by more than 1,000 yards. He was second in the NFL in passing yards and fourth in the league in touchdowns.
Can Dak Prescott win the big one?
Another question which often enters these discussions: is Dak a winner? Prescott’s career record is 42-27, including nine comebacks and 15 game-winning drives, so it’s hard to argue that Dak does not have a winning mentality he can call upon when the chips are stacked high.
So is Prescott overrated or underrated? Is he a top five quarterback, a top three quarterback, maybe just a top 10 quarterback? There’s an argument that if you look at any of his full 16-game seasons in isolation, his performances have been good enough to lead an already strong team to a Super Bowl.
Can he put an average team on his shoulders and march them to the big game? His 2019 season suggests he has that special quality in him. But who is the 2021 Dak Prescott? Only time will tell. We will begin to find out in less than a week.