By Martin Rogers
Dak Prescott doesn’t just want to get paid like Russell Wilson, he wants more. This weekend, he has an ideal opportunity to show if he is worth it.
Sunday’s clash between the Seattle Seahawks and the Dallas Cowboys is many things, not restricted to the following: a matchup between one remarkably well-oiled machine and another that is clunking and sputtering and somehow surviving, a guaranteed fiesta of heavy offense and high scoring drama and, simply put, an unmissable way to spend a weekend afternoon.
It is also a battle of two quarterbacks at differing stages of their career and if you see a spot of green-eyed envy from Prescott towards Wilson from across CenturyLink Field, that’s because the more experienced man has almost everything the Cowboys QB wants.
Wilson has a fat contract, a $35 million a year deal sealed and secured in the spring of 2019. Prescott, now with 19 months having passed since talks opened towards Dallas about a new agreement, still doesn’t have it. After Patrick Mahomes cashed in for $45 million a year, the Cowboys’ signal-caller will be eagerly eyeing the $40 million annual mark when talks recommence at season’s end.
Furthermore, Wilson, nine years into his pro career after being a third-round pick, has a Super Bowl ring, something Prescott (a fourth rounder in 2016) and the Cowboys can only dream of at this point.
One big result, on the road in Seattle, wouldn’t suddenly push Prescott over the top when it comes to trying to persuade Jerry Jones to dig a little bit deeper. Yet perception is a muscular sidekick to have on your side in such matters, especially when it comes to QBs and the significance of outdueling Wilson.
Either way, it should be breathlessly entertaining.
“It is definitely going to be a shootout,” former Pro Bowl wide receiver and First Things First co-host Brandon Marshall said, on FS1. “(Prescott) can keep up with Russell Wilson. Now you are looking at a banged-up Seattle defense, they can’t get pressure on the QB. I am going to give the edge to the Seahawks but Dak Prescott will look good. It is going to be a great game to watch.”
This weekend offers the opportunity for a statement game, and a statement performance for Prescott, because taking down Seattle is no small matter. The Seahawks surged to 2-0 with a win against the New England Patriots last week. Seattle is one of the favorites to win the Super Bowl, listed at 10-to-1 odds, which puts them at the third best odds behind only Baltimore (+450) and Kansas City (+500).
As for Wilson, well, no one is playing better than him right now. Always full of poise, the Seahawks quarterback is throwing with 82.5 percent accuracy through two weeks, the highest in NFL history at the same point of a season.
The Cowboys are, on the other hand, shakier than a lopsided Jenga tower. After two weeks, we are sure of only one thing – that they will be thrilling to watch, because anything could happen.
Prescott threw for 450 yards and ran for three touchdowns (as well as throwing for one) last week, but the Cowboys still needed an Atlanta Falcons meltdown and a wild onside kick recovery to get them to a point of parity at 1-1.
Another similar outing, especially in a win, and Prescott will be elevated to a new mark. It is no secret that the Dallas defense is not particularly good, and he can become seen as a man capable of lifting the organization on his shoulders. Which is, frankly, the kind of thing you might be entitled to expect if you are paying someone $40 million.
“Life as the quarterback of a high-profile team isn’t fair,” Cowboys columnist David Moore wrote in the Dallas Morning News. “If you want to be paid among the best at the position, go out and beat the best at the position. No one at the moment is better than Wilson.”
If he can’t, it might be hard for Prescott’s representatives to put forward a sturdy argument that he is worth more than Wilson, even at a younger age and equipped with the knowledge that the QB market has moved on drastically since the Seattle deal was cut.
You can argue that Prescott is at one of the most critical junctures of this elongated standoff with the Cowboys upper management. This weekend, at least he is going to get the chance to do his thing, seemingly without tactical restriction.
New head coach Mike McCarthy isn’t in a mood to make any special concessions to try to tame Wilson, by slowing down his own offense. He is going to go for it, and don’t be surprised if some huge numbers are posted on both sides.
“We want to score as fast as we can,” McCarthy said. “And as many times as we can.”
Financially speaking, Prescott’s giant score still awaits. If he’s right on the money on Sunday … a similar result could follow next summer.
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