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What the Matthew Stafford trade could mean for Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys

Even as the Detroit Lions were trading franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford, the Dallas Cowboys were still without a long-term deal with Dak Prescott.

DALLAS — One of the better quarterbacks in the NFL was traded over the weekend when former Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford – the No. 1 overall selection in the 2009 draft – was shipped out west to the Los Angeles Rams. The deal included a fellow former No. 1 overall pick in QB Jared Goff, two first-round picks, and one third-round pick which should prove to be a hefty price to pay.

However, in today’s NFL climate, where quarterbacks are the biggest reasons for wins and losses, the cost is never too high if you have faith that the QB you are after is the right one for your team.

The Dallas Cowboys have the quarterback they believe in, or so they say, in Dak Prescott. Yet the well-publicized song and dance with Prescott’s contract continues to be a major thorn in everyone’s side. Even as talented QBs are being juggled around the league, the unanswered question remains: What is taking the organization so long to agree to a long-term contract with the player they continue to tout as their future at quarterback?

There hasn’t been an answer to that question for the past two offseasons, as the Cowboys have cost themselves money and salary cap space by delaying a deal that ownership insists is inevitable. It surely takes two parties to agree to a contract, but delaying the inevitable borders on insanity in a league with volatility at such a premium position.

When Goff was traded in the Stafford deal, it left Prescott and Philadelphia Eagles QB Carson Wentz as the last players standing to still be on their original team from the 2016 quarterback class. Wentz also looks like he could be one of the next high-profile quarterbacks to be moved.

The biggest difference between most of the top quarterbacks that Prescott is compared to from the 2016 QB class and Dallas’ franchise signal caller is Prescott hasn’t gotten a long-term deal from his team yet.

The double-edged sword here is that it can be reasoned that the ones who have gotten paid are already making their deals look like poor investments. That’s no reason for the Cowboys to be gun shy about getting Prescott signed, however.

Prescott has been a leader, a winner, and he’s gotten better every year for the Cowboys. Even though he’s yet to receive a second contract, he’s started to pull away as the top QB from his draft year. There’s no reason to distrust that he’ll continue to be one of the best signal callers in the league. It’s difficult to find anyone who understands the logic of not getting a deal done at this point.

The rest of the NFL is actively looking to upgrade at the position and, as the Stafford trade proves, are paying a premium price to find a quarterback. 

Meanwhile, the Cowboys have their guy and continue to play a game of chicken with him. One of their main competitors in the NFC just traded three high-end draft picks for Stafford, and Dallas still hasn’t reupped with Prescott, a considerably younger and by most accounts, better quarterback.

Stafford has never guided the Lions to a divisional title, nor has he ever helped win a playoff game, going 0-3, and has a career winning percentage of just 45%. Meanwhile, Prescott has played for two NFC East title teams, has a playoff win, and sports a career winning percentage of almost 61%. Prescott also leads Stafford in career QB rating, 97.3 to 89.9.

The playoff accolades aren’t great for either player, as they have combined to go 1-5, but Stafford’s time in the league and with the Lions has been marked with failures to win big games that could have put a stagnant franchise over the top. Prescott is just entering his prime and has time to build up a better resume.

This isn’t to sneer at Stafford’s accomplishments. The Highland Park alum is a really good quarterback who’s had the deck stacked against him in Detroit. But the veteran QB did just get traded for a bundle of draft picks to a team that is two seasons removed from a Super Bowl appearance and the QB that led LA to that Super Bowl was included in the trade.

If that doesn’t tell Jerry and Stephen Jones how hard it is to find a quarterback worthy of keeping, it might never sink in for the Cowboys.

This feels redundant for a majority of Cowboys fans but the team needs to stop fooling around and sign Prescott to a long-term deal. Good quarterbacks don’t grow on trees and last weekend’s trade is a prime example of why the Cowboys need to hold onto Prescott and build around him. All the picks in the draft won’t help if you don’t have the right quarterback.

The Cowboys have the right guy and it’s time to show him the love. The money will help too.

Do you think the Cowboys will be able to sign Dak Prescott to an extension this offseason? Share your predictions with Ben on Twitter @BenGrimaldi.